Colabello demoted, but staying positive

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2014 - 11:30 PM

– Chris Colabello says he’s been through this before. Though it probably didn’t hurt as much as this time.

“In Double-A, I couldn’t get out of my own way in May,” Colabello said of that .205 month (albeit with five homers) in 2012. “It’s the game. When you’re going good, you try to ride the wave and stay on an even keel emotionally.”

Colabello blamed “lack of execution” for his slump; after batting .295 with 27 RBI in April, he crashed to .125 with three RBI in May, and he hasn’t had a hit in his past 23 at-bats. He also hinted that he was dealing with an injury and “let it get to me a little bit,” but refused to say more, saying he didn’t want it to be an excuse. But when he lost his everyday job as designated hitter, his slump just deepened. “It’s hard when you’re not playing a lot, obviously,” he said. “An 0-for-3 turns into five days without a hit.”

“It’s a tough [decision], after his start, but I think we can all see he needs some swings right now,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Get some regular at-bats and try to find his swing.”

Colabello said he looks forward to playing regularly, and doesn’t doubt his ability to hit major league pitching. “I haven’t had any for a long time,” he said. “I believe in my ability — that’s why I stayed here this year,” rather than accepting an offer to play in South Korea.

Help on the way

The demotion of Colabello and Chris Herrmann clears the way for the return of Josh Willingham, who was activated from the disabled list after breaking a bone in his wrist, and calling up Oswaldo Arcia, who also had been battling a sore wrist.

Willingham hit .185 in eight rehab games at Rochester but doubled and homered on Friday, convincing the Twins he is ready. Arcia was batting .312 with five home runs.

Everybody in the dugout

AT&T Park has no bullpens, only practice mounds in foul territory down the lines, so relief pitchers remain in the dugout during the games. Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak believes all ballparks should be that way.

“I love how you’re right in the game, you’re in the thick of it, you’re living and dying with your teammates. That’s a lot of fun,” Swarzak said. “We don’t get that very much out in the bullpen.”

But Gardenhire sounded much less enamored with the crowded dugout.

“I’d rather call them on the phone,” he said. He and his coaches “talk about getting a reliever up, who we want — well, they’re standing right there. So they hear everything,” Gardenhire said. “I’m not used to that.”

Adjustments work

Swarzak pitched 2 ⅓ innings of scoreless relief on Sunday, giving up only one hit, and said he’s made adjustments that have made him more effective.

“I’ve been working on arm-action issues I was having earlier in the season. The [velocity] has been there, but from a hitter’s standpoint, it was too easy to see the ball,” said the Twins’ long reliever, who has allowed one earned run in his past 7 ⅔ innings.

“I had been trying to do too much, changed some things. I was trying to impress [the coaches], trying to work my way out of the long-man role, show the world I’m better than I’ve been.”

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