Craig Calcaterra

Ron Gardenhire

Ron Garden-hired: Ex-manager becomes a Twins special assistant

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This is not the sort of thing that would normally get its own post, but I couldn’t resist the Garden-hired thing. Sorry. Anyway, the Minnesota Twins just announced they hired Ron Gardenhire as a special assistant to GM Terry Ryan.

Gardenhire was one of those managerial firings that no one really wanted to make but everyone sort of felt like they had to because, heck, the team wasn’t going anyplace. The Twins still liked him. He never lost his clubhouse that we know of. Sometimes you just gotta make a change. In fact, I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t already employed with the team someplace. Part of me thought that he just kept showing up like Milton from “Office Space” and this hiring announcement was someone “fixing the glitch” as it were, only this time in Milton’s favor.

All of this reminds me of one of my favorite baseball stories. In 1981 the Braves finished fifth and owner Ted Turner fired Bobby Cox. At the post-firing press conference, a reporter asked Turner who his top candidate was to replace Cox. Turner said, “It would be Bobby Cox if I hadn’t just fired him. We need someone like him around here.” Life just works like that sometimes.

Welcome back, Ron.

Chris Colabello got a bottle of liquor from Steven Wright as a “sorry for beaning you” gift

Toronto Blue Jays' Chris Colabello is hit by a pitch in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Sunday, April 17, 2016, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Associated Press
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BOSTON (AP) Toronto first baseman Chris Colabello showed up at his locker the morning after getting beaned by Steven Wright to find a gift waiting for him from the Boston right-hander.

“Steven decided that he was going to send over a gift,” Colabello said, moving his clothes and uniform out of the way to show a large bottle of liquor sitting underneath.

“He didn’t have to,” he said Monday as he was getting ready for the annual Patriots’ Day game. “I’m sure that’s not cheap, too.”

On Sunday, Wright hit the infielder with an 87 mph fastball in the helmet, sending him to the ground. He sat on the ground for a while and was checked out by a trainer before getting up and trotting to first base.

Wright was visibly upset on the mound, took off his hat and chatted with Colabello when he made his way to first.

The last thing Colabello expected was a gift.

“He went above and beyond in my eyes,” he said. “It was pretty obvious there was no intent. You could see by his reaction.”

Colabello said the act of a pitcher sending a gift to a player after hitting him “happens more than people know. You build relationships with people.”

Now, the Blue Jays player wants to send a note back via his former teammate from last season, David Price.

“I’ve got to shoot a message to Price to tell him to say thank you,” Colabello said.

Steve Lombardozzi signs with an independent league team

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Steve Lombardozzi, top, forces out Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello (15) at second base then turns the double play over to force Blue Jays Edwin Encarnacion at first base during fourth inning Grapefruit League spring baseball action in Dunedin, Fla., on Sunday, March 8, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
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This is not exactly a big news item, but I’ve always been fascinated by players who are still of major league playing age who latch on with an indie league club.

This time it’s Steve Lombardozzi, who has signed with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League. Lombardozzi is only 27, but he was released from the White Sox at the end of spring training and failed to find another job. He’s from Maryland, so this is close to home for him.

Lombardozzi has played five years in the bigs, three with Washington, one with Baltimore and one with Pittsburgh, and has a career line of .263/.294/.336 while playing second, third, short and the outfield.

Not many guys make it down to the indie leagues and then back again, but some do. Good luck to Lombardozzi as he continues his baseball odyssey.