CHICAGO –Conor Gillaspie slid home after tagging up on a wind-blown pop-up, barely beating the lunging tag by Kurt Suzuki. Joe Mauer touched first base a millisecond after Alexei Ramirez throw arrived in Jose Abreu’s glove at first base.
In both cases, Sean Harlin, the Twins director of major league video, jumped into action, finding and reviewing the play on his two-screen Hawkeye video setup and confirming each time that the call was correct.
So Day 1 of baseball’s new replay rules was uneventful. Right?
“It was stressful,” Harlin said. “But it worked out OK.”
That was in doubt before the game, when Harlin, whose job is to advise manager Ron Gardenhire whether challenging a call has a high likelihood of success, took the Hawkeye system for a test-run. The system has two high-def screens (about 25-inch diameters, not huge) and eight camera angles visible on each, but teams had been given little training on using it.
As Harlin was getting comfortable with the setup, it twice blew a fuse. Electricians finally got the system working again, but it cost Harlin nearly an hour of practice time, and left the Twins nervous about how it would work.
“Am I going to get to go kick some dirt again?” Gardenhire said he wondered during the screens’ blackout. But the system, and Harlin, operated smoothly once the game actually began, and neither team challenged a call.
Colabello's story plays on
The rumors about Chris Colabello possibly playing in South Korea this season were overblown, he said, and Monday was the reason: He lined up with his teammates on Opening Day, having made a major league roster.
“Obviously I thought about [South Korea], but my heart was here. I believed I could be here,” he said before collecting a single and double in four at-bats as the Twins designated hitter in their 5-3 loss to the White Sox. “I want to play in the big leagues. It’s like my earliest memory. I don’t think it was ‘eat food,’ or ‘breathe’ — it was, ‘I want to play in the big leagues.’ ”
That was always a long shot, from the time the Twins signed him two years ago to play for Class AA New Britain, when he was a 28-year-old slugger who had played seven seasons in the independent Can-Am Association. But Colabello thrived right away, and even won International League MVP honors last season at Class AAA Rochester.
“It’s a great story, a guy who survived as long as he did, who persevered,” Twins assistant General Manager Rob Antony said. “And he’s an important guy. We need a righthanded bat, some offense, and he can provide some of those things.”
The Twins provided something Monday, too: Colabello’s old No. 20. With Josh Roenicke no longer with the team, Colabello was able to claim the number he wore throughout his independent-ball career.
“I’ve always been a numbers guy. I’m a math kid. So my number meant something to me,” said Colabello, who as assigned No. 55 when he was called up last summer. “It’s really great that the Twins made it happen for me.”
• Mauer went 0-for-4 on his first Opening Day as a first baseman, grounding out toward the middle of the field each time. He made a couple of good plays in the field, however.
• Lefthander Brian Duensing’s wife, Lisa, gave birth Monday morning to Boston Matthew Duensing, the couple’s second child and first son. Duensing was in Omaha for the birth, with righthander Michael Tonkin activated in his place for the game.