In addition to injuries to second baseman Jason Kipnis and outfielder Michael Brantley, the Cleveland Indians had nearly a dozen players miss time during training camp because of their participation in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
But with the first-round eliminations knocking out several teams, the Indians are starting to get players back, most notably first baseman Chris Colabello, who will not be in Goodyear, Arizona, for long, as he will make the trip to San Antonio for a two-day series with the Texas Rangers over the weekend.
“I told him, ‘If you unpack, pack quickly because you’re going to San Antonio,’” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Chris Colabello returns at perfect time for Cleveland Indians
The 2017 offseason was a unique one for Colabello.
After coming up one run short against the Chicago Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series, the Indians hit the free-agent market and added one of the best sluggers available, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, to the middle of the lineup.
In 12 years at the Major League level, Encarnacion has hit .266 with 1,439 hits in 5,409 at-bats in 1,513 career games. Of those 1,439 hits, 629 have gone for extra bases, including 311 doubles and 310 home runs. Also, Encarnacion has driven in 942 runs, scored another 829 and drawn 662 walks.
During his final year with the Blue Jays, Encarnacion hit .263 (158 for 601) with 34 doubles, 42 home runs and 127 runs batted in over 160 games. He set career highs with the 158 hits, 99 runs scored, 76 extra-base hits, 127 RBI and 318 total bases. The 42 round-trippers matched his single-season career best.
“When we signed Edwin, it kind of put him in a difficult spot probably for making our team out of camp, and he knows that, but at the same time, we told him, ‘You’ll be treated how you deserve,’” Francona said.
The 33-year old Colabello will fill an important role for the Indians over the next couple weeks, as the team was short on first basemen with Carlos Santana playing for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
In four years with the Minnesota Twins and Blue Jays, Colabello has 187 hits in 727 at-bats (.257 batting average) with 11 runs batted in and 86 scored. Of his 187 hits, 64 have gone for extra bases, including 35 doubles and 28 home runs.
“It’s easy to show a guy like that respect because of the way he acts toward the game, treats his teammates and things like that,” Francona said. “All of the things you’ve talked about, he’s kind of lived it out. I think he’s embraced our team and this culture and tries to add something to it. You appreciate that.”