The 50-game suspension of Oakland righthander Bartolo Colon for using synthetic testosterone left Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine feeling that Major League Baseball’s drug testing program is working.
“It seems that whatever we’re doing, we’re doing properly,” Valentine said Wednesday before the Red Sox dropped a 7-3 decision to the Los Angeles Angels.
Colon faced the Red Sox July 3 at Fenway Park, allowing one earned run over six innings. He didn’t get the victory, but the Athletics won the game, 3-2.
“I just wish we got that loss back that he pitched against us,” Valentine said.
Valentine managed the Rangers (1985-92) and Mets (1996-2002) at the height of what has come to be known as the steroid era. At the time, he said, he did not realize the extent of the problem.
Several players that have been tied to the use of performance-enhancing drugs, including Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Pudge Rodriguez, played for Valentine in Texas.
“I don’t think [a manager] can be responsible for what guys are doing personally,” Valentine. “It’s tough. I think it’s very tough. I managed in the ’80s and ’90s and probably my biggest regret in life is I didn’t know more and I didn’t figure it out better. It’s a regret. But I don’t know how I could’ve.
“I don’t think it’s in our job description to police things, not only drugs and steroids. We try to get people who know the difference between right and wrong; we try to surround ourselves with those people who do that. After that, I think it’s difficult to try to police it.”
Franklin Morales, who starts against the Angels Thursday, is 3-3 with a 3.98 earned run average in seven starts this season. In 43 innings as a starter, he has allowed only 33 hits and struck out 44.
It was Valentine’s idea to put Morales in the rotation, and he believes the lefthander should get a shot to stay there.
“He has what it takes,” said Valentine. “The one thing you can’t teach is experience, and he needs to experience situations and different hitters. He’s going to get the opportunity to start.”
Morales was hit hard by the Yankees last Friday, giving up four home runs over 5⅓ innings. But he has been one of the few pleasant surprises on the pitching staff this season and is showing long-term viability as a starter, developing a better feel for his curveball and split-finger changeup.
Morales also has impressed Valentine with his willingness to embrace different roles. He started the season in the bullpen, became a starter in mid-June, returned to the bullpen a month later, and is now a starter again.
“He’s been excellent,” Valentine said. “A few times he said he would pitch in relief when he was scheduled to start. That’s pretty good. Unique.”
Morales wants to continue as a starter, believing he has matured as a pitcher after failing in that role earlier in his career with the Rockies.
“I’ve learned a lot this year,” he said. “My pitches are better and I can throw more strikes. I think being a starter is good for me. I wanted the chance and I’m glad they gave it to me.”
Righthander Clayton Mortensen, a supplemental first-round draft pick in 2007, already has played with four organizations.
The Cardinals, who drafted Mortensen out of Gonzaga, traded him to the Athletics in 2009. Then he went to the Rockies in 2011 before landing with the Red Sox in January in exchange for Marco Scutaro.
That trade was a salary dump for the Sox. But Mortensen could find a home in Boston. He has a 1.72 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 16 appearances and 31⅓ innings out of the bullpen. He has struck out 24 and walked 11.
Mortensen, who has shuttled back and forth from Triple A Pawtucket this season, threw two perfect innings Tuesday.
“Clay’s pitched in a lot of different situations to different types of hitters and has been consistently good,” Valentine said. “His breaking stuff is different than anybody else we have on our staff. It’s always good to have different looks and his look is really different.
“I think it’s just as effective against lefthanders as it is righthanders, which makes him really valuable.’’
Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Dwight Evans threw out first pitches before the game as part of the annual Jimmy Fund radio telethon. Rice came out from left field, Lynn from center, and Evans from right. They were wearing their Red Sox jerseys . . . Another great outfielder, Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, celebrated his 73d birthday Wednesday . . . Valentine on seeing Angels rookie Mike Trout play in person for the first time: “He did things that were really special, even through they didn’t show up on the highlights. He’s a special player.” . . . Felix Doubront threw a lengthy bullpen session Tuesday, simulating four innings. The lefthander was shut down to rest, then placed on the disabled list with what the team claimed was a “right knee contusion.” He is eligible to come off the DL Saturday. Valentine has not announced his rotation for the weekend series against the Royals, but Doubront could be part of it . . . David Ortiz went through some running drills and reported his strained right Achilles’ tendon felt fine. He will try the same Thursday. There seems to be a chance he will play this weekend . . . The Red Sox will take their annual team photo on Thursday. Now there’s a collector’s item.