Colon returned to the White Sox for a second stint Thursday when he agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract. The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner could earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses based on innings.
"I think everyone knows what Bartolo can do when he's healthy," Chicago general manager Ken Williams said during a conference call.
Williams said after gathering information from Dr. James Andrews and the team's medical staff, the White Sox are convinced Colon "was on the other side of the issues that have derailed him in his career the last few years."
A two-time All-Star and 20-game winner, the 35-year-old Colon has made only 36 appearances in the last three seasons, mainly because of injuries. He pitched for the White Sox in 2003, going 15-13 with a 3.87 ERA and 173 strikeouts while setting career highs for innings (242) and complete games (nine).
He was limited to seven starts with Boston last season because of back stiffness that landed him on the disabled list for three months. He wound up going 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA in his lone season with the Red Sox, who suspended him late in the season without pay after he went home to the Dominican Republic and decided not to return. He was unhappy about the prospect of pitching out of the bullpen.
Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper said he wasn't interested in what happened with Colon in Boston last season. Cooper and the team's training staff need to get the 5-foot-11, 250-pound right-hander into shape and get his arm strong.
Cooper said he's been told by trainer Herm Schneider that Colon is healthy and structurally sound.
"No question about Bartolo Colon's experience, his abilities, how he can cut a ball, how he can sink a ball, how he can do everything with a baseball," Cooper said.
"No question about his makeup or anything about that. The only question is, `Can we keep Bartolo healthy?' We've made this undertaking and we believe we can."
Williams sent manager Ozzie Guillen and Cooper to the Dominican Republic to watch Colon throw before last year, but a deal wasn't worked out and he eventually signed with the Red Sox.
Williams said Colon was still hitting 94 and 95 mph last season, despite his limited work.
"That is not the 98 and 99 you used to see from Bartolo, but he doesn't need it," Williams added. "He has enough movement on his ball to get outs in this league."
Colon would be the fourth starter in the rotation behind Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks -- if healthy and effective. Williams said Colon would arrive at spring training early to get started. The team's pitchers and catchers report to their new spring training complex in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 15.
The fifth spot in the rotation could be a spring competition between several pitchers, including Lance Broadway, Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard and Jeff Marquez, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Yankees involving Nick Swisher.
The White Sox also have Jose Contreras, who ruptured his Achilles' last season. He is ahead of schedule in his recovery and could return after the All-Star break, Cooper said.
Colon is 150-97 with a 4.09 ERA and 1,569 strikeouts over 12 seasons with Cleveland (1997-2002), Montreal (2002), the White Sox (2003), Angels (2004-07) and Boston (2008). He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award after going 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA for the Angels.