The career of Chris Colabello went from fairytale to nightmare in 2016. The 1B/DH will look to get back to the major leagues in 2017, and hopefully rebuild some of his damaged reputation
Prior to the 2015 season, most baseball fans would have been unfamiliar with the name Chris Colabello. The now 32-year-old journeyman had only played 114 games in the major leagues, all coming with the Minnesota Twins in 2013-14.
He had shown some ability to handle a bat, and in particular had a great series against the Blue Jays in 2014 which likely led to his being picked up off of waivers prior to the 2015 season.
2015 turned out to be a revelation for the minor league lifer, as he hit for a career high .321/.367/.520 with 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 333 at-bats. He ended up taking over the majority of starting duties at first base by outplaying Justin Smoak, and was a staple in the lineup through the 2015 playoffs, batting fifth.
2016 looked like Colabello’s opportunity to grab ahold of the starting job for good, and likely set himself up for the type of major league contract that would set up his family for life.
This is going to be a short section. Colabello started the season with the big league club, which was a first for his career.
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The only other good side was the support he received from the Toronto Blue Jays, at least publicly. As we’ll discuss further below, Colabello was suspended for 80 games for PED use, and did not return to the big league club.
The Massachusetts native adamantly denied any conscious wrong-doing, and the Blue Jays brass was good about supporting him, at least in the media.
Boy, there was plenty of it. Colabello started the season in the majors, and was dreadful through 10 games and 29 at-bats. He managed just two hits for a .069 batting average, and looked completely lost at the plate.
On April 22nd, it was announced that Colabello had been suspended for 80 games for violating the MLB’s performance enhancing substance program. Colabello tested positive for an anabolic steroid called dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which was more prominent a few decades ago in baseball.
He was forced to sit out for half the season and never returned to the big league roster. Due to the suspension, the first baseman was ineligible for the playoff roster, and because the club was in contention, there seemed to be little reason to bring him back only to have to leave him out when the playoffs arrived.
He didn’t fare much better in triple-A either, struggling greatly throughout the season in Buffalo and never really pushing the big league club to consider him. He finished with a line of .185/.254/.293 including five home runs and 12 RBI in 157 at-bats.
Colabello will be arbitration eligible for the first time next season, and the Blue Jays will have to decide if they want to keep him in the organization.
By all accounts, he is an extremely well-liked player in the clubhouse, and can count Kevin Pillar and manager John Gibbons among his supporters.
It’s possible the Blue Jays will retain him and give him another chance to earn his way back to the big leagues. However, it’s also equally possible that they decide to cut him loose, and give Triple A at bats to youngsters like Rowdy Tellez in 2017.
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