Our winner this week, Chris Colabello, represents all of the above. His bases-clearing double in yesterday’s 10-7 win over Cleveland rescued a game that was deteriorating fast for the Twins. And that was his second best performance of the week.
His best was three days earlier, when the Twins were trying to bounce back from a disheartening extra-inning loss, avoid being swept by the dreaded White Sox and win their first game of the 2014 season. That’s when he drove in six of the Twins ten runs in a 10-6 win.
The Twins are looking to switch things around this year. Every week, Metro Transit recognizes a Twins player who successfully switched the outcome of a game for the better.
A week that could’ve ended 1-5 is now 3-3. A team that had serious questions about their offense is now one of the top scoring teams in the majors. And their cleanup hitter is a 30-year-old rookie who was nearly sold to a South Korean team in December.
Hollywood would turn down this script as too saccharine.
Three years ago, Colabello wasn’t playing with an affiliated team. He was playing in the Can-Am league, an independent league similar to the league in which the St. Paul Saints play. As a 28-year-old he joined the Twins AA club and impressed. Last year as a 29-year-old he tore up AAA, earning a promotion to the majors as a very old rookie. That’s already a Disney movie.
But cue the foreboding music, because after he was called up, Colabello fell flat. He started out 1 for 11. He bounced around a .200 batting average finishing with a .194 mark. He went to the Dominican Winter League where he was hitting just .190 when the opportunity arose to join a South Korean team.
Colabello had every right to embrace that destiny. It was reported that he could have made upwards of a million dollars in salary overseas. With the Twins, he would be limited to about half of that – and that was only if he made the team, which was looking questionable. Joe Mauer was moving to first base, Colabello’s natural position. The Twins had signed Jason Kubel to be their designated hitter. Colabello was a long shot to make the roster even if he was hitting, which, of course, he wasn’t. The simple fact that the Twins were willing to sell his contract overseas spoke volumes about their evaluation of his future.
But Colabello turned down the chance to go overseas. He started hitting early in spring training and never stopped. He leapfrogged several other candidates to make it onto the Opening Day roster for the first time as a 30-year-old. And through the first week of the season, he leads the team in RBI, total bases and OPS (on-base plus slugging).
How much bigger can a switch get?