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Colabello takes a bow for big week

The less time Chris Colabello spends thinking about numbers, the better he performs at the plate.

It was a philosophy that clicked with him in 2011, the last year he played independent league baseball. It was a philosophy he perfected in 2013 when he was the International League’s Most Valuable Player and made a splash in his Major League Baseball debut with the Minnesota Twins.

And it’s what has helped the 31-year old infielder bust out of a slow start for the Buffalo Bisons to earn IL Batter of the Week honors before the Bisons dropped a 3-0 decision to the Norfolk Tides at Coca-Cola Field Monday night.

Colabello doesn’t focus on the numbers, but a look at the metrics from last week were pretty impressive.

Colabello batted .467 on the Bisons’ road trip, leading the IL with 14 hits and 10 runs batted in. He belted three home runs and five extra-base hits.

He entered the week with a .243 batting average and left it at .367. On Monday, he had the league lead in home runs (five), runs batted in (15) and total bases (39).

The numbers are a product of Colabello’s approach to hitting and to baseball.

“I told myself at the beginning of the year, no matter what happened this year my biggest goal was to come in and have fun and take care of my swing every day,” said Colabello. “That was kind of my formula in 2013. I wasn’t worried about how many hits I had. I wasn’t worried about batting average. I was just worried about going out and helping the team win and every day doing the things I knew I needed to do to make myself the best player I could be.

“That being said, sometimes you have good weeks. Sometimes you have not-so-good weeks. In an ideal world you keep your bad weeks smaller then your big weeks are big.”

Attention to the detail of his swing took earnest shape in 2011, the last of the seven seasons he spent playing independent league baseball. His plate approach became about finding what worked for him, tweaking that daily while learning how to adjust for opposing pitching.

“I think it really started to click for me in 2011, my last year in indy ball where I became really accountable for the way I swung the bat every day,” Colabello said. “It happens for every guy at some point, you just never know when it’s going to be, when you start to realize what’s important for you. When I became accountable for my swing every day is when I became a better hitter.

“That being said, you do your work before the game and then create a plan about how a team or a how a particular pitcher is going to approach you that night based on information you have the night before. At the end of the day it’s all the cat-and-mouse game people always talk about. You start to see patterns in how guys are attacking you and things like that. I think the best hitters in the world are guys who make adjustments from pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat as opposed to month to month, week to week.”

In Monday’s loss to Norfolk, Colabello went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, grounding out into a fielders’ choice and popping up to second. He drew a walk in his final at-bat in the eighth with two outs.

“Obviously baseball’s a game of ups and downs throughout the year,” Colabello said. “Sometimes you have to ride the waves a little bit.”

“He’s been getting his pitch to hit,” manager Gary Allenson said of Colebello’s recent hot streak. “His swing was a little big tonight. He was trying to drive the ball too much.”