Jays From the Couch checks in on how Blue Jays Chris Colabello has fared since recently being reinstated from his 80 game suspension for PED’s
It should be a novel. The baseball pro athlete who climbs his way through the ranks, longer than some, in the International League, to find his way onto a division-winning team. The story gets more compelling when you add in the fact that it was the first post season the team had seen in 22 years.
Then there’s the fall from grace, the positive PED test, the suspension, the banishment from the kingdom if you will. Throughout this fall, Chris Colabello has- like so many others before him – steadfastly maintained his innocence. He has even gone as far as continuing his search for answers long after the cameras stopped rolling. He says he’s still searching for answers.
Watching Colabello take BP with the Buffalo Bisons, his first game with the team, its easy to see that he is happy to be on the field again. There is, however, a resigned air about him that the questions will be more about the past than the present. He does have the support of teammates though. Speaking with Ryan Goins before the game, he had this to say about Colabello’s return,
” It’ll be good to see him back out there again. He’s gone through a tough time and I’m just glad to see him back on the field playing again.”
It’s Colabello’s bat that will do the most to change that conversation. His performance and his feelings about the game are in the forefront, the rest simmering in the background. Through everything, Colabello is still thankful to be where he is.
“I feel very blessed and fortunate to be able to play the game as a professional so there’s an excitement…that’s what makes me tick more than everything else. The opportunity to go out and compete against somebody else on any given night.”
After a beautiful home run in his first at bat with the Buffalo Bisons, Colabello went 2-4 in a strong first outing. Manager Gary Allenson was happy with the performance by both Colabello and fellow rehaber Ryan Goins.
“Ya, did well. I always tease guys about that there about not having much luck with the rehab guys, but they both contributed tonight and obviously Colabello great in the first 5 weeks last year and Ryan (Goins) having him for a week last year and the whole season the year before or most of it there, we know what players both guys are. Sometimes it’s tough to motivate the big-leaguer when he’s down, where he almost treats it like a spring training game but these guys didn’t tonight.”
The story still swirls on though, despite the end to the suspension. With neither a smoking gun or admission of guilt, the search for answers continues. Arden Zwelling tweeted recently about the memo MLB sent to players detailing products – some over the counter – that could result in a positive test for DHCMT (Turinobol), even though it is not on the list of ingredients. As none of these products are on their “safe” list, the players are at risk and responsible for the testing outcome if they choose to use these products. Colabello, however, insists he only used NSF certified products.
Does this change the narrative of the story? Does it change the way these players would be viewed and believed? There is the possibility of changing the perception of guilt. It could make the notion that Colabello had no idea how this substance got into his system, more believable. It certainly gives his incredulous heartbreak at the positive result a glimmer of hope.
Shi Davidi recently published an interesting article on the problems with testing, and the science behind a positive result (full article). To the average person, the results look inconclusive. Looking for a marker that has the same characteristics of the drug and not the drug itself is confusing at best. It seems like a system in need of a fix – pardon the pun. It opens up questions about the testing process, an ability to challenge the results.
Meanwhile, in Buffalo, Colabello has started to play baseball again, reinstated from his suspension on July 23. There are fans out there cheering for his comeback, fans that wanted nothing else but to believe the broken-hearted player as he sat across from Jamie Campbell, in a compelling interview, shattered and with tears in his eyes. This is their glimmer of hope that it was Colabello’s work ethic and perseverance that landed him on the team and nothing else.
The remaining problem will be, is there a place on the 2016 Blue Jays for Colabello? At this point many would say no, especially given the fact that he is still not eligible for the post season, as well as the recent acquisition of Melvin Upton Jr. answering any holes in the outfield. Colabello is focused on playing the game though, and hasn’t lost focus or that feeling…or the nerves.
“I’m always nervous. I don’t think there’s ever been a day in my life when I haven’t been jittery..not nervous, butterflies, excited. It happened in my first day in pro ball, my last game in the big leagues, it happened today. It’s everyday.”
Hopefully for Colabello’s sake this continued excitement for the game will translate into some sort of hot streak. A giving reason for a call up in the heated race to post season. Unfortunately with the choices the Blue Jays have at the moment, it seems less likely his bat will be needed. For Colabello, staying the course hasn’t ever been an issue, there’s an expectation of perseverance, it’s just who he is.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: BART HANLON UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.