March 30, 2023

What Irony If Chris Colabello and Curt Smith End Up Competing for Same Job With Twins

March 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

It was only a week ago in this space that I found myself praising the WBC performances of Chris Colabello and Curt Smith.  I hope that cruel irony does not step in for this pair.

Minnesota gave Colabello, the longtime Can-Am League standout (Worcester, MA and Nashua, NH) only two at-bats after Team Italy was eliminated before sending him to their minor league camp, presumably to prepare for a season at Triple-A Rochester, NYBut guess what:  The Twins have now signed Netherlands standout Smith, who played in the American Association (Lincoln, NE) two years ago and had been signed to join Atlantic League powerhouse Lancaster, PA (Atlantic League) this season.  One cannot help but wonder if the two first basemen may end up competing for the same job as they try to advance to the parent Twins.

Colabello, who hit .294 with three RBI in nine spring games for Minnesota, reportedly got encouragement from Twins stars Joe Mauer and incumbent first baseman Justin Morneau when he was farmed out along with kind words from Manager Ron Gardenhire.  “He did fine,” Gardenhire, told  “He played great for Team Italy and really well for us.  First base is a place where we don’t have a ton of depth.  We have Morneau and then ad-libbing from there.  So if he’s down there (minors) swing the bat good, he could go right into the big leagues after all that time (seven years) in Independent ball.  So it’s a good story.”

Smith was upbeat after the WBC when he told USA Today “for all of us who haven’t played in the major leagues, playing against the Dominican Republic and the great team that they have is like playing in the major leagues.”  What’s more, he added, “scouts are watching.  The whole world is watching.”

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More Cuts From Spring Training Camps

Chris Colabello certainly was not the only former Independent player in recent days to get the news that he would not be opening the season in the major leagues.  Darren Byrd (Fargo, ND, American Association) get farmed out by Milwaukee, then traded to Oakland and fellow pitchers Robert Coello (Edmonton and Calgary, Canada, Golden League) was sent out by the Los Angeles Angels, Bo Schultz (Grand Prairie, TX and Sioux Falls, SD, American Association) by Arizona, Caleb Thielbar (St. Paul, MN, American Association) by Minnesota and Andrew Werner (Evansville, IN, and Windy City, Frontier League) by Oakland.

15 More Who Have Played in Major League Exhibition

This extended spring training season has given a bevy of onetime Independent players who were not official invitees to major league camps an opportunity to play in at least one Grapefruit or Cactus League game.  We know of 15 of them who have gotten into at least one major league box score with numerous others in uniform without getting to play.

Among outfielders who have appeared in games, Arizona used Brent Clevlen (Wichita, KS, American Association), Baltimore has gotten Adam Greenberg (Bridgeport, CT, Atlantic League) into two games, and Matty Johnson (Gateway, Frontier League) played for Boston.

Pitchers seeing action have included Ryan Kussmaul (Southern Illinois, Frontier) with the Chicago White Sox, Caleb Graham (Midwest, Frontier) and Jarrett Grube (Southern Maryland, Atlantic) both with the Los Angeles Angels.  Veteran Chris Jakubauskas (Lincoln, American Association; Orange County, Golden League; Florence, KY and Ohio Valley, Frontier) and Alan Williams (Washington, PA, Frontier) have played for Milwaukee and Andrew Albers (Quebec, Can-Am League) with Minnesota.  Ryan Feierabend (York, PA, Atlantic) has taken the mound for Texas.

Third basemen Jacob Blackwood (Kansas City, KS, Northern League) and Jesus Merchan (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic) have played for San Diego, first baseman Brock Peterson (Bridgeport) with St. Louis and Washington has used Atlantic League infielders Jimmy Van Ostrand (Sugar Land, TX) and Mike Costanzo (Camden, NJ).  Catcher Zach Zaneski (Midwest) has made more than one appearance with Texas.

              (This is an excerpt from the column Bob Wirz writes year round on Independent Baseball.  Forty columns are planned during 2013.  Fans may subscribe at, enjoy added stories on the blog,  or comment to  The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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