OAKLAND -- Bartolo Colon is baseball's serene Buddha, 270 pounds of vast waistline and sly wisdom, a silent sage with a wink and a smile. On the fifth day, he strolls to the mound and becomes a practically perfect pitching machine.
How does he do it? How does he continue to do it?
"I don't even know what I can say," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "Just, 'Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God, for helping me.'"
Colon, who turned 40 in May, was "finished" three or four times, beginning in 2006, when his previously durable right arm started breaking down. Suddenly, he was too delicate or too overweight and, finally, too tainted by scandal.
Yet Colon keeps finding ways to revive his career, his most intriguing comeback coming after a dreadful 2009 season. After sitting out 2010, he received an injection of stem cells. Part man, part science experiment, the burly Dominican this season is shocking observers from coast to coast.
Colon is 11-2, the second pitcher in Oakland history to reach 11 wins before July. He has an eight-game win streak, during which he has a 1.37 ERA. With a dazzling variety of pitches dancing along the borders of the strike zone, he has made a compelling case to be named American League's Pitcher of the Month for June.
"He's the guy we look to now as, to an extent, the staff ace," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "When he goes out there, we feel great about our chances to win. That's as good a compliment as you could put on a starting pitcher."
Here's another compliment Colon would welcome: A.L. All-Star.
He has earned the honor. Yes, even though he served a 50-game suspension last season after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone. Yes, even as MLB investigates Colon and at least a dozen other players recently alleged to be linked to Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic in Miami whose methods are under suspicion.
Insofar as it's unclear if these recent revelations are related to the suspension Colon served last year or whether they are a separate matter, he is no less eligible than Detroit's unbeaten (12-0) Max Scherzer or Miguel Cabrera, the reigning MVP who is making a spirited run at an unprecedented second consecutive Triple Crown.
"Whether this is different or not, I really don't know," Melvin said. "If it's the same place, well, to me, that means it's no different. Hopefully, that's the case."
If Colon's 2012 suspension was Biogenesis-related, he likely will not face another suspension -- unless he fails another test.
It's unlikely that A.L. manager Jim Leyland, who consults with fellow managers, including Melvin, would consider penalizing a player simply because he might be under investigation. Everything we know about Leyland tells us he will play it by the book.
And as long as Colon takes his turns and ranks among the league's top eight starters -- he undoubtedly does -- it's unfathomable that he'd be snubbed. Players select eight pitchers and Leyland, at least a week away from filling out his staff, names at least five.
Meanwhile, Colon says he's more concerned with staying on rotation for the A's. He also knows he could have three more starts before the July 16 Midsummer Classic.
Melvin, of course, supports his guy: "Do the math. It's halfway through the season and he's got 11 wins."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose heavy-hitting lineup was tamed by Colon on Friday night, said Colon "has a different kind of movement and throws harder than what the gun reads."
A's general manager Billy Beane has made his share of intelligent deals, and surely some now consider signing Colon to a one-year contract as yet another stroke of genius. They would be wrong.
It was a smart move, very clever. Above all, though, it was practical.
At worst, he'd be a $3 million rental, easily affordable to a franchise awash in charitable donations from revenue sharing.
At best, he'd be a great value and a stabilizing influence on a young staff.
Pitching as he has thus far, Colon is an outright steal -- which looks like genius. "At the beginning," Melvin said, "you look at him and say, 'Here's a guy who is going to eat innings for us, is durable and is going to make his starts.'
"To expect this kind of performance has been amazing."
A wise general manager realizes statistics can't be removed from the team ledger. Beane understood that if the A's finish 95-67 and Colon wins 19, those victories are forever. And the risk is worth it.
Colon is an All-Star. Should be, has to be. His work on the mound demands it. Not even baseball's shameless hypocrisy should deny him.