Colabello takes a long, strange trip to majors

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 23, 2013 - 6:48 AM

Chris Colabello, 29, spent seven years tearing up the Can-Am independent league before any team even gave him a long look. He made his major league debut Wednesday

Chris Colabello’s route to the majors hasn’t been easy — and it took another turn Wednesday.

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– After the bus ride, the car accident, the airport scramble and the sleepless night, how difficult could playing baseball be?

“I just figured it would be hard” to get to Atlanta, Chris Colabello said after his first major league game, “because that’s how things go in my life.”

Good point. He spent seven years tearing up the Can-Am independent league before any team even gave him a long look. So why should this be any easier?

“It was everything I could ever imagine it to be,” he said of his first game, even after going 0-for-4 Wednesday with two strikeouts. “Overall, an amazing experience. I’m kind of at a loss for words.”

His Rochester teammates had no such problem when manager Gene Glynn interrupted their card game around 1 a.m. Wednesday, about an hour into a four-hour overnight bus ride from Allentown, Pa., to Rochester. His news: Trevor Plouffe was going on the disabled list, and the Twins wanted Colobello to meet them here in time for Wednesday’s game — in about 12 hours.

So much for the card game. “A little bit of shock, little bit of tears, little bit of laughter,” he said of the jubilant onboard celebration in his honor. “To see the excitement a lot of those guys had for me was one of the things that was most special about the moment.”

One problem: His flight was scheduled for 6:25 a.m. The bus was due to arrive by 4 a.m., until a passenger car collided with it on an upstate New York freeway. They pulled over for an hour while the accident was sorted out — no injuries, fortunately — but suddenly, Colabello’s timeline was tight. He got to the airport at 5:47, he said, “and the [security] line was moving pretty slow. They could see I was sweating, and they called me to the front.”

The Red Wings first baseman got to Turner Field in time, and was immediately put into the starting lineup — in right field. It’s a position he has played before, but not regularly since 2011, though he has been taking fly balls for three weeks to prepare.

Mostly, he’s here for his bat. Colabello might be a 29-year-old rookie, but he was ripping International League pitching apart — a .358 average with 12 homers and 39 RBI.

And now he can get some sleep. “Sleep is overrated,” he said with a laugh.

Etc.

• Plouffe said his head was sore where he was kneed in the head by Dan Uggla, and he had a headache, but he felt much better. “I felt groggy, dizzy [afterwards]. I was sensitive to the lights” when a concussion test was administered, a result that convinced the Twins to place him on the seven-day disabled list for concussions. But he figures he’ll be fine by the weekend. “I wish it was shorter. I’ll be back the first day of the homestand,” he said.

• Oswaldo Arcia broke an 0-for-15 slump with a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning, becoming the first Twins pinch hitter to homer in almost three years. Jim Thome and Drew Butera each homered as a pinch hitter in Philadelphia on June 19, 2010, the last time it happened.

• Manager Ron Gardenhire said as a bank of lights came back on slowly Tuesday night, after going out during a rain delay, the umpires came to him with a proposal. “The lights were not completely on, and they said, ‘[The Braves] are ready to go if you are,’ ” the manager said. “Well, we’re hitting. Yeah, I guess they would be ready to go — we’re the ones that have to hit in the shadows. I said, ‘Nah, that ain’t going to work.’ ” And the teams waited another 15 minutes until the light was completely restored.

• Mike Pelfrey tried to persuade Gardenhire to let him return to the game after the delays, but once it became clear it would be almost 90 minutes between pitches, he was told no. “He said, ‘Well, you’re going to have two pitchers on the mound,’ ” Gardenhire said. “I said, ‘No I’m not. I’ll tackle you.’ ”

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