Colabello Ready for Return to World Baseball Classic
By Chris Villani Sports Reporter/Columnist · March 01, 2017
Milford native Chris Colabello is set to return to the World Baseball Classic (WBC), the tournament that helped kick-start his Major League Baseball career four years ago.
"Any time you get to present a whole country, it's a special feeling," Colabello told the Crier. "Anybody that knows me knows how much I love the game of baseball and the chance to compete. There is nothing better than playing playoff type baseball games and the WBC is like one big playoff, so it's really cool to get to do that early in the year."
Colabello will once again suit up for the Italian team. His family has deep roots in Italy, his father Lou played professionally there and represented Italy in the Olympics, his mother Silvana is from Italy originally, and Chris spent several years of his childhood living there.
"It's a special feeling when I think about my dad and what he did over there and getting to be a part of the rich history of baseball on the European scene," Colabello said.
This will be Colabello's second WBC, a quadrennial international tournament that began in 2006 and involves dozens of big league players and a 16-team, pool play format. In his first appearance in 2013, he hit two home runs and lead Italy with seven runs batted in. Later that summer, he broke into the Major Leagues for the first time with the Minnesota Twins.
"I was able to do some things with the bat and help propel my 2013 season," he said. "I remember coming back and it felt like I wasn't just a minor leaguer in Spring Training anymore. It gave me a jolt of confidence going into the year."
This year's classic comes after tumultuous 2016 season with the Toronto Blue Jays in which Colabello served an 80-game suspension for violating MLB's performance-enhancing drug policy, a charge he has adamantly denied. Colabello is also with a new team this spring after signing a minor league deal with the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians.
"Coming to a new team, you wonder if it's a good idea to leave Spring Training, but it's something I discussed with [manager] Terry [Francona] and [team president] Chris Antonetti," Colabello said. "They thought it was a good idea in terms of preparation, and it's a cool way to break up the repetitiveness of camp."
Team Italy begins pool play in Mexico on March 9 and will take on Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico in its bid to advance to the finals.