Royals’ Colon steps out of shadows for winning Series hit
NEW YORK — With one swing, Christian Colon earned his World Series ring.
The Royals backup delivered in his first appearance of this postseason, lining a pinch-hit single that broke a 12th-inning tie and sent Kansas City over the New York Mets 7-2 early Monday in the clinching Game 5.
"I played this at-bat over and over in my mind," Colon said. "I took a lot of swings in the cage behind to stay loose during the game."
The 26-year-old infielder had been stuck on the bench during the Royals’ run to the title. He hadn’t played at all since Oct. 4 in the regular-season finale.
Kansas City manager Ned Yost, however, had no problem calling on him in the clutch.
"We were all pretty confident because Christian Colon understands how to play his role," said Royals Hall of Famer George Brett, now a team executive. "Didn’t overswing. He knew what he had to do. He’s a very sound, fundamental player and he was the perfect man up there in that situation."
Colon batted for winning pitcher Luke Hochevar with one out and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson on third. Colon lined a single to left-center off Addison Reed, shouting and pumping his fist as he ran to first, and later scored as part of a five-run burst.
"I wasn’t surprised when I got the opportunity. Ned let me know in the inning that I was going to hit third and be ready. He knew I was ready, he had the confidence that I was going to come through," Colon said. "I was just excited, seeing all the smiles in the dugout, everyone just pumped out. Just an exciting moment."
Colon was left off the World Series roster last year, when the Royals lost Game 7 to San Francisco.
"He broke his finger, and we didn’t think he was throwing well," Yost explained.
"This year we kept him on. And the reason we kept him on because we felt as a staff, as an organization, that he was a clutch-type player. He’s a winner," he said. "And you put him in a situation, and he’s going to give you everything that he’s got. And for him to come through tonight and get the big hit was just, it was special."
Colon was highly touted when the Royals made him the overall fourth pick in 2010 draft. Among the other players taken in the top seven that year were Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mets ace Matt Harvey.
Colon made his big league debut last year and hit .333 in 21 games. He then made a huge contribution in the AL wild-card win over Oakland, hitting a tying single — also in the 12th inning — stealing second and scoring on a single by Salvador Perez for a 9-8 victory.
This year, Colon batted .290 in 43 games while spending a lot of time stuck behind Kansas City’s talented infielders.
"It was difficult because I wanted to help, and I knew I could help. You’ve got to wait for the opportunities and I understood that and the way to do it is to prepare myself," Colon said. "You’ve got to be ready mentally. … You’ve got to make sure you’re in good spirits and you’re not down on yourself because that’s half of the battle."
Colon didn’t have a lot to do in this World Series. At least not until the Royals needed someone to help them win the crown.
"Tonight, Chris Colon hasn’t had an at-bat in a month, came up with the hit in the biggest situation of his life and he executed his job," Dyson said.
"He had his mind set on doing his job and that’s what you can control, doing your own job, and he responded well," he said.