Bartolo Colon was 20 years old when the Indians signed him as a hard-throwing right-hander out of the Dominican Republic. He had not yet won a Cy Young Award, made the first of his three All-Star Game appearances or become the cult hero that he is in Flushing today.
But Colon was nonetheless a burgeoning star in Cleveland, where he will return with the Mets for the first of three games Friday -- Jackie Robinson Day across the Major Leagues -- at 7:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field.
"It will be a great privilege and a great moment for me to return back to where it all started," Colon, who turns 43 next month, said after taking a tough-luck loss in his season debut on Saturday.
Colon last played in Cleveland while with the A's in 2013, giving up six runs in four innings. This time, he'll face another bright young pitcher in Cody Anderson, as both the Mets and Indians look to rebound from middling starts to their seasons.
The Indians should enjoy favorable weather conditions at Progressive Field throughout the weekend, after two of their first four home games were postponed. Anderson had a no-decision in his season debut against the White Sox on Saturday, allowing two runs, six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings.
Things to know about this game
• Anderson's early success has come despite a notable lack of strikeouts. No starting pitcher has produced a lower ERA than Anderson (3.05) since the start of last season while whiffing fewer than 4.4 batters per nine. For Anderson, it's been a notable drop from his five Minor League seasons, in which he struck out 6.8 per nine.
• The Mets have something to look forward to in Cleveland besides the game itself: pitcher Jacob deGrom, who missed his scheduled start Thursday because of a right lat strain, will rejoin his teammates there. DeGrom will attempt to throw a bullpen session as soon as Friday, which should determine whether he can rejoin the rotation next week. The disabled list remains a possibility.
• Keep an eye out for a former Met in Cleveland. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is 6-for-14 lifetime against Colon, with two walks and two home runs. Initially off to a slow start, Byrd showed signs of life by hitting his first home run of the season on Thursday during the Indians' win over the Rays.