Report: MLB Investigating Stem Cell Procedure On Yankees’ Bartolo Colon

NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Major League Baseball is examining a procedure performed on Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon last year that involved stem cells being injected into his painful shoulder and elbow, according to The New York Times.

Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon in Boca Raton, Fla., told the newspaper he flew to Colon’s native Dominican Republic and helped a team of doctors there with the treatment on the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner. He said he has used Human Growth Hormone in the procedure before, but not in this case with Colon.

HGH is banned by Major League Baseball.

“The Yankees did notify us and we are looking into it,” league spokesman Pat Courtney told the Times for a story posted on its website on Wednesday night.

Purita said he has treated several professional athletes over the years, including players for the White Sox and Rangers, and the NFL’s Ravens and Dolphins, and has never provided any of them with HGH.

“I just won’t give it to these guys,” Purita told the Times. “I don’t need the stigma and that kind of reputation.”

Colon went 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA for the Angels in 2005, but has been hampered by injuries in recent years. He was released by the White Sox in September 2009 after going 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts.

Colon, who turns 38 this month, finalized a minor league deal with the Yankees in February and made the club with a strong spring training. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven games, four starts, moving into the rotation after Phil Hughes went down with an injury.

General manager Brian Cashman told the Times he didn’t know about the treatment in the Dominican Republic when the Yankees signed Colon. He was recently told of the procedure by the pitcher’s agent, and he then notified Major League Baseball.

Purita told the Times he took fat and bone marrow stem cells from Colon and injected them back into his elbow and shoulder.

“This is the future of sports medicine, in particular,” he said. “Here it is that I got a guy back playing baseball and throwing pitches at 95 miles an hour.”

Colon, who speaks little English, replied “I don’t know, I don’t know,” in Spanish when asked about the treatment by the Times.

Purita is proud of Colon’s performance so far this season, but credited the pitcher for bouncing back.

“We gave him the means, but he has the focus and desire, the killer instinct,” Purita told the Times. “He worked his tail off to get back in the game. That is something stem cells cannot fix.”

Your thoughts on Bartolo’s stem cell procedure? Be heard in the comments below…

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


One Comment

  1. Frank says:

    I suffer from Chronic Back pain … I’d do it in a heartbeat!

  2. Let me get this straight. The island of Hispaniola is doing more advanced medical procedures on its’ shores than the U.S?

  3. EM says:

    it sounds as if he had an autograft of his own cells. This should not be deemed as performance enhancing. He had a surgical procedure that was supported by his own biologics.
    Now the more important question is why would he be going to the DR for surgery?

  4. Jokingly says:

    Maybe Hughes should get this procedure done also.

  5. A.J. says:

    Mr. Met you just mad because you will never see your team win a ring again..ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha……

  6. KPMc says:

    In 50 years using HGH and steroids to improve peoples health and assist them in recovering from injuries will be the norm for all of us… not just athletes. But right now most are hypocrites and can’t see the big picture. Pretty sad.

    We have hundreds of willing guinea pigs that can be studied and monitored to figure out what works best and in what doses but all we (all of us, fans, front office, media) do is whine about the integrity of records.

    1. Jake says:

      it hasn’t been the “norm” for athletes for a number of years, and it surely won’t be in 50 years

      1. KPMc says:

        You sure about that? Cause every week I hear of another minor leaguer being suspended and it has been rampant in football since the 70’s. But people don’t care about football players they just have this weird worship of baseball’s records.

        Trust me… if you live long enough you will be begging doctors/insurance companies to administer HGH or another form of stem cell therapy to help you or someone you love.

        Don’t be so blind to advancements in science and medicine.

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