Colon allowed one run through seven innings in his first big league outing in almost nine months, leading the Angels to a 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.
"I'm not surprised because I always thought I'd be back in April," Colon said through a translator. "My goal was to pitch in April.
"It's just a different feeling now, knowing I don't have to hold back on throwing his fastball. I think my mind is definitely stronger, but not my arm. I know the days of throwing 99 and 100 miles an hour are probably not there anymore, but I'm very pleased with where I am. I just hope I don't have to go through that again."
The 2005 AL Cy Young winner was sidelined for the final two months last season because of a partial tear in his rotator cuff, and chose to rehabilitate the injury rather than undergo surgery.
"Last year, when the reality set in of what Bart was dealing with, we talked about some of the scenarios that could come up as to when he could be ready and how effective he was going to be," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Bart was on a mission to come back and pitch, and this was the best of the best-case scenarios you could have -- for him to be ready as early as he has, and with the stamina and the stuff that he has."
Colon (1-0) threw 55 of his 77 pitches for strikes, while giving up seven hits and no walks in his first start for the Angels since July 27, 2006.
The Mariners scratched out a run against Colon in the seventh on a bases-loaded groundout by Ichiro Suzuki. The rally included a pair of infield hits, including a sharp comebacker by Jose Lopez that struck the right-hander in the back.
Vladimir Guerrero helped stake Colon to a 7-0 lead with a two-run homer, one night after he helped build an 8-0 lead for Joe Saunders with a solo shot. But for the second game in a row, the Angels needed closer Francisco Rodriguez to get the save. K-Rod pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth in seven chances, sending Seattle to its fifth straight loss.
"We have a tremendous amount of confidence in our bullpen," Scioscia said. "They've opened up the doors a little bit late in some games, and you're going to run into things like that from time to time. They're not going to be perfect, but they're going to be there for us all season."
Ben Broussard narrowed the deficit to 7-6 with one out in the eighth with the first pinch-hit grand slam in the Mariners' 31-year history while batting for Yuniesky Betancourt. Broussard's fifth career slam came on a 3-2 fastball from Scot Shields, two batters after Darren Oliver gave up an RBI single to Jose Guillen.
"That's the situation you want to be in," Broussard said. "I'm just trying to make contact. Shields was coming right at me and he has great stuff. He's owned me in the past, so the last thing I had on my mind was trying to hit a home run with the bases loaded because that's when you end up popping it up to the shortstop."
Shields, pitching for the first time in five days, felt he had no choice but to challenge Broussard.
"I felt good out there, I just didn't do my job," Shields said. "I was trying to throw it in there because I needed a strike. In that situation, I can't give in walk in a run. It was middle-in, and he got a hold of it."
Just 21 pitches into his comeback, the injury-prone Colon gave the Angels another scare.
Robb Quinlan, starting at first base instead of Casey Kotchman because the Angels were facing a left-hander, misplayed Guillen's second-inning grounder while backpedaling on the ball -- then pulled Colon off the bag with his belated throw. Colon turned his left ankle on the play, but stayed in after a couple of warmup tosses.
Horacio Ramirez (1-1) was charged with six runs, seven hits and six walks in four-plus innings. It was another tough night for the Mariners' starting rotation, which has a combined 6.34 ERA through the first 13 games.
Ramirez, who threw 33 of his 81 pitches in the first inning, fell behind 3-0 before recording his first out. Orlando Cabrera singled home the first run and Guerrero drove followed with his fifth homer.
Garret Anderson chased Ramirez in the fifth with an RBI double, Quinlan hit a two-run single off reliever Julio Mateo one out later, and Erick Aybar capped the rally with an RBI single off Mateo's glove for a 7-0 lead.
- Colon was 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA in 10 starts last year -- the only victory coming on a four-hit shutout against the Mariners on July 5 at Seattle.
- RHP Kelvim Escobar is slated to come off the DL on Tuesday for a start against Detroit, which would make the Angels' projected rotation intact for the first time this season.
- Joe Saunders was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Colon on the 25-man roster.
- Seattle C Kenji Johjima left with a bruised right calf an inning after getting struck by Cabrera's foul tip in the fifth.