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Milford's Colabello Shines on Global Stage
To the casual, or even expert, baseball observer, it appeared to be a routine ground out to second base. But Chris Colabello knew better. He's taken thousands upon thousands of swings in a professional career that's spanned nearly a decade, and he knows when he's got it. Playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Colabello knew he had it in a round-robin game against Canada.
"I hit that first ball hard, right at the second baseman," he said. "That's usually a good sign. I told [first base coach] Frank Catalanotto 'better watch out today, I'm swinging the bat well.'"
But even Colabello didn't know just how well he'd swing the bat against the Canadians. The former Milford High School star finished the game 4-for-5 with a three-run home run and sparked a 14-4 win for the Italians. Colabello's homer came during a four-run second inning.
"It was a huge situation in the game," he said. "We were coming in off a win over Mexico the game before and I just wanted to drive the ball, help us get a little separation, but I got a fastball out over the plate and drove it."
Colabello hit two home runs and hit around .400 during Italy's surprising run to the WBC's elimination round. The Minnesota Twins prospect called the experience one of the best he has had in baseball.
"The environment, the game settings, the whole atmosphere was fantastic," he said. "We had a group of guys that made it what it was. The 28-man roster meshed together more quickly than I could have imagined. We believed in each other, as a group we made a commitment to each other."
Italy does not have the same baseball reputation as many of the baseball-crazed nations in the Americas or the Far East, but the group of largely-American born players with Italian lineage turned some heads at the pre-Spring Training tournament that features many notable Major League stars. Colabello played for Italy in the European Cup last fall, and the Twins were supportive of their prospect playing in the WBC. For Colabello, representing Italy on the diamond is a family tradition. His dad, Lou, pitched for Italy against the United Stated during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
"Being able to play for Italy is something I'll treasure for a long time," said the younger Colabello. "It's a great honor, but because of the relationship I have with my father, it adds a different level of significance and excitement."
Italy's run in the WBC ended in the elimination round, but not before more offense from Colabello. He blasted an opposite field home run out of Marlins Stadium against the Dominican Republic and established big-league starter Edinson Volquez. "It was one of the longer opposite field home runs I have ever hit," he said. "That's a big ballpark, but I put a good swing on it. To give us a lead like that was pretty special."
With the WBC experience completed, Colabello will return to the Twins organization. He was sent to minor league camp earlier this week, but will continue to work towards his dream of playing in the show.
"The biggest goal for this spring training was for me to get comfortable around the Twins' coaches and the front office and see what it's all about, and I feel I did that to the best of my ability," he said. "They told me to keep doing what I am doing and they'll see me in Minnesota sooner than later. It's not something I try to think about everyday, I just try to be the best me I can be, help the team win, and let the rest fall where it may."




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