MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins announced Friday that reliever Casey Fien has been activated from the 15-day disabled list. To make room for Fien on the roster, Minnesota optioned right-hander Michael Tonkin to Triple-A Rochester.
Fien went on the disabled list on April 30 with a right shoulder strain, and Tonkin took his place on the roster at that point. Tonkin pitched in relief in 11 games and allowed four runs in seven innings.
Fien made three rehab appearances with Triple-A Rochester before being activated. He struck out three batters and didn’t give up a hit in three innings of work.
"I felt good. Pain free, easy to get loose. That was the main thing, when I was here and I was a little injured. It took me a lot longer to get ready. Being able to get ready in 12 to 15 pitches is perfect for me."
Before landing on the DL, Fien appeared in nine games and had a 4.35 ERA with three strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. Though Fien was Minnesota’s setup man in the bullpen before his injury, Twins manager Paul Molitor said he expects Blaine Boyer to stay in the eighth-inning role for the time being even with Fien back in the bullpen.
"I would imagine that at least here in the short-term that if we get into a situation late and have a chance to get outs in the latter third of the game that Casey would probably precede Boyer into the game," Molitor said. "I think that could change, and we’ll have to see how Casey’s doing. But I think for now I’m comfortable with Boyer out there getting outs in the eighth inning."
As for the decision to option Tonkin over a few other pitchers, Molitor said it was a tough choice. Minnesota’s bullpen as a whole has been solid as of late, but someone had to be the odd man out with Fien’s return.
"I think at this level, it’s almost always difficult," Molitor said. "When you look at Michael Tonkin, I think he’s been up here almost exactly a month or close to it. All the outings weren’t great, but when you think about games we won over the past two, three weeks, there’s been a lot of times when he’s gotten really big outs. I let him know that we saw that. We know that he’s a guy that can help us up here."
Colabello makes return as a Blue Jay: Chris Colabello was nearly destined to be a minor league lifer, someone who put up with years of bus rides just to keep playing the game of baseball without ever tasting the big leagues.
In 2012, the Twins organization gave Colabello a shot in the minor leagues. By 2013, he was finally a major leaguer after spending seven years in independent ball. And in 2014, Colabello’s hot bat carried Minnesota’s offense through the first month of the season.
But a thumb injury in late April of last year hampered him the rest of the way. After hitting .295 with three homers and 27 RBI in April, Colabello cooled off due to nerve damage in his thumb and hit just .229 for the entire season and played in only 59 games.
"It’s arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life," Colabello said of the thumb injury. "Being in pain every day, writhing pain every time you didn’t square up a baseball and trying to figure out ways to make it not hurt instead of going up to bat finding ways to compete. That was what I was doing every day from April 23rd or 24th on. Obviously, it had an impact on me but I wanted to try and go out there and help the team. Whether that was smart or stupid, I’m really not sure.
Toronto claimed him off waivers in December and gave him another opportunity. Despite not making the Blue Jays’ 25-man roster out of spring training, Colabello was called up in early May. So far, the 31-year-old outfielder is hitting .386 with three homers and 12 RBI in 22 games.
It’s a bit reminiscent of the hot start Colabello had last April, which led to the Twins giving away a Colabello cowbell to fans. The red cowbell with his No. 20 on it were a hit with the fans, but Colabello wasn’t sure if he had any left. He said his mom gave most of them away.
"She might have a couple," Colabello said. "Somebody handed me one when I walked in today."
Though Colabello’s major league stint with the Twins lasted just 114 games over two years, he looks back fondly at his time in Minnesota. The Twins gave him a chance to play in the majors, and he’s continuing to chase that dream in Toronto.
"I think grateful’s the word that comes to mind, first and foremost," Colabello said of his Twins memories. "I met a lot of good people. I’m thankful for everything. When nobody else would give me a chance, this organization did."