The Cleveland Indians added Chris Colabello to the team today, offering the former Toronto Blue Jay a spring training invite.
Colabello is coming to the Indians after posting a slash line of .069/.156/.225 in the 10 games he played in 2016 before he was suspended for PED use. Being ineligible for the postseason, he stayed on the Jays’ Triple-A Buffalo roster for the remainder of the year, batting only .180/.248/.288 in his 153 plate appearances.
In late April while playing with the Blue Jays, Colabello was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol, a banned substance for MLB players. In a statement, Colabello said finding out he tested positive was “one of the scariest and most definitely the least-expected phone calls of my entire life…I have spent every waking moment since that day trying to find an answer as to why or how?”
In 2015, Colabello was a strong athlete for the Jays, when he batted .321/.367/.520 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI, and 22 walks. He played a part in pushing the Blue Jays to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
The Tribe seems to understand that 2016 was just not Colabello’s year. Since getting suspended, Colabello has played like he lost the drive to play ball. “I would never compromise the integrity of the game of baseball,” Colabello said earlier in the year. The “surprise” suspension seemed to break his spirit, but the Indians are set to give him another chance.
There’s been criticism that 2015 was his first and last “good” year. But if you look at his first three of four years in the MLB, he has steadily grown as a better athlete with every season, going from a .194 BA with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, to .229 in 2014, to .321 with Toronto in 2015.
Colabello will be invited to the Indians’ spring training camp in February. If and when he is surrounded by talented, and has positive teammates like those on the Tribe, Colabello might light back up and play ball like he means it, like he did in 2015. If he does it right, Cleveland might invite him to play at Progressive Field in 2017.