Blue Jays outfielder was 0-for-3 on Sunday afternoon against the Astros, putting his 16-game hitting streak in jeopardy. The Blue Jays afforded him one more opportunity to extend it, and it happened to be in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out. The tying run was on third base in Jose Reyes and the winning run was on second base in Jose Bautista.
Colabello reached out for a 1-2 breaking ball from closer Luke Gregerson, sending it weakly back up the middle for a walk-off two-run single. The 31-year-old has been a diamond in the rough for the Blue Jays, now batting .355/.400/.529 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 129 plate appearances this season.
Colabello’s story is fascinating. He played independent league baseball through age 27 before the Twins signed him to a minor league deal in 2012. In December 2013, he received a $1 million offer to play in South Korea, but turned it down as he didn’t want to give up his dream of playing in the majors.
Sunday’s walk-off win extends the Blue Jays’ winning streak to five games, putting them at 28-30, leaving them just 4.5 games behind the first-place Yankees.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.