Colabello reflects on time with Italy at Classic

Colabello reflects on time with Italy at Classic

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Chris Colabello received his Team Italy uniform for the World Baseball Classic, he had a picture taken of him holding up his jersey. Colabello then sent the photo to his parents, because the number he had chosen was significant for his family.

Colabello wore No. 12, which is the same number his father, Lou, donned for the Italian national team in the 1984 Olympics.

"My mom cried," Colabello said on Wednesday morning. "My dad was like, 'You have big shoes to fill. I could hit, man.'"

Lou Colabello was a left-handed pitcher.

Back in Cleveland's camp, the 33-year-old Colabello laughed while recalling the exchange with his dad. Team Italy's loss to Venezuela on Monday night ended its run in this year's Classic, in which Colabello and his temporary teammates went 1-3 against Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela.

During the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Colabello's performance with the Italian team helped spark his career. This time around, the first baseman found that he was suddenly the experienced veteran, not only when he was in the dugout, but also when he stepped to the plate.

"It was weird," Colabello said. "After the first game, I don't think I got a fastball to hit. I'm like, 'Man, am I that good?' No, it was different to be able to kind of be the guy. Me, [Drew] Butera, [Francisco] Cervelli -- everybody was kind of looking to us. It was a different feeling, for sure. I hope I was able to help some of those young guys."

With the Indians, Colabello is hoping to catch on as a first baseman and designated hitter option, though he is in camp as a non-roster invitee and does not have an out in his Minor League contract. At the moment, Cleveland also has the potent duo of Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Santana occupying the first base and DH spots on the roster.

"When we signed Edwin," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "it kind of put him in a little bit of a difficult spot probably for making our team out of camp. He knows that. At the same time, we kind of told him, 'You'll be treated like you deserve [an opportunity].' It's easy to show a guy like that respect, because of the way he acts toward the game and the kind of teammate he is and things like that.

"All the things you talk about, he's kind of lived it out. I think he's embraced our team and maybe this culture, and tries to add something to it. You appreciate that."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.