Chris Colabello set a Twins record for RBI in April, breaking Kirby Puckett’s mark. It was a startling beginning to a season from the journeyman first baseman/outfielder, and many figured he would cool off quickly.
He did, eventually landing in the minors. But was there more to it than just the league catching up to him? In a story published at telegram.com, out of Worcester, Mass., this came to light:
Something that happened on April 23 contributed to Colabello’s drop off in production. Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour jammed him with a fastball, numbing Colabello’s right thumb. The thumb hasn’t felt right since. The Twins physician told him he had suffered nerve damage and only rest would help, but after taking nearly a decade to reach the major leagues, Colabello tried to play through the pain and numbness. He glued cotton to his batting gloves and tried a thumb protector, but his slump continued. … Colabello didn’t tell the media in Minnesota about his thumb injury. “I don’t like to make excuses,” he said. “I chose to play and I’ll deal with the consequences.”
Nobody will ever know how much of it was the injury and how much of it was just Colabello cooling off, but it is notable that through April 23 he was batting .346 with 26 RBI and a .962 OPS. For the rest of the year with the Twins, he hit just .157 with a .479 OPS.
Facing blindness, an outdoorsman is forced to abandon bird hunting, one of his life’s great passions. In this first-person essay, he grapples with an evolving self-identity and a changed relationship with the outdoors.
Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson limped off at the start of Thursday’s practice with an apparent leg injury.
It occurred during the individual drills portion of practice, in which Robinson hobbled over the trainer’s table before walking inside. Robinson has played well this season, despite a nagging hamstring injury dating back to the start of training camp.
Center John Sullivan (concussion) returned to practice but was limited during the open portion of practice. Guard Vladimir Ducasse (knee) was more active, participating in 1-on-1s against the defensive line but worked with the second team. Joe Berger and Mike Harris remained as the first team center and right guard.
Linebacker Gerald Hodges (hamstring) returned to practice after missing Sunday’s game against the Bills. Safety Antone Exum Jr. (ankle) and tight end Kyle Rudolph (abdomen/groin) were the only Vikings held out of practice. Rudolph continued to work on his conditioning for a second consecutive practice.
Many football fans remember that Marvin Harrison was the one who caught the first touchdown pass of Peyton Manning’s career. It’s less likely, but they might also remember that Rick Parros caught John Elway’s first one and that Sterling Sharpe was the recipient of Brett Favre’s first.
Someday, will fans remember — or have a reason to remember — that Cordarrelle Patterson was the Vikings wide receiver who caught the first touchdown pass of Teddy Bridgewater’s NFL career?
Today, Patterson didn’t seem to care whether he will be the answer to that trivia question someday.
“It might be in 20 years of whatever,” Patterson said. “We really don’t know.”
With the Vikings sitting at 2-5, Patterson has more important things to worry about this week. But he did acknowledge that it was a special moment for Bridgewater. Patterson wanted to keep the ball after this four-yard touchdown reception in the loss to the Bills, but he gave it up to the rookie.
“I gave Teddy the ball. I wish I could have kept it, but I gave it to him,” he said. “That’s the right thing to do, to give that young guy his ball and hats off to Teddy. I hope we get many more this week.”
Patterson didn’t say why he wanted the ball so badly. Sure, it was his first touchdown catch of the season. But he had four of them last season and has now scored 11 total touchdowns in the NFL.
He hoped a compromise could reached, but then he had a King Solomonesque moment of clarity.
“I wish we could split it half way, but that won’t work out so good,” Patterson said.
Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin haven’t created the best headlines this season, but former Vikings coach and current Buccaneers defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier praised his former star players as “great competitors and guys I have a lot of respect for.”
“Tremendous talents, Pro Bowl players, both of them,” Frazier said Thursday during his weekly press conference in Tampa. “Enjoyed my time with them. Loved both of them. I haven’t talked to Percy in a while. I’ve talked to Adrian through some of the things he’s going through. And I wish both of them nothing but the best.
“They were great for me. They helped me tremendously during my time with them. They know from the bottom of my heart, I wish nothing but the best for them in their future endeavors, whatever they may be.”
Peterson remains on the commissioner’s special exempt list while he addresses a child-abuse charge in Texas. Harvin was traded from Seattle to the Jets a week ago when his temperamental personality created similar problems to what contributed to the Vikings trading him to Seattle before last season.
Frazier, whose Bucs face the Vikings on Sunday in Tampa, was asked if both players were “coachable.”
“Oh, yeah, very much so,” he said. “Adrian, I don’t know if there’s a superstar that warrants the accolades more than he does. From my standpoint as a coach, he was what you want to see in a superstar player. Practiced hard, was gracious to his teammates. It was never about him.
“Percy? Tremendous player, tremendous playmaker. We didn’t always see eye to eye on some things, but at the end of the day, we both wanted the same thing for our team, and that was to win.”
@MasterStrib How does Tampa’s defensive front match up with our leaky O-line? #VikingsST
— Matthew (@mattg82) October 23, 2014
Even with defensive end Michael Johnson and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the Bucs only have nine sacks this season. Both have missed at least a game due to injuries, and it appears Johnson is still dealing with a nagging high ankle sprain. As we’ve seen the last two weeks though, right defensive ends have had big games against the Vikings due to left tackle Matt Kalil.
As bad as the Bucs are, this will be another good test for the Vikings offensive line to get back on track against some talented defensive linemen. There’s probably more concern if center John Sullivan can’t play considering McCoy’s presence. Either way, I’d set the over/under at 3.5 sacks. …And I’d still probably take the over.
@MasterStrib Is this the optimum McKinnon-to-Asiata ratio for the Vikings? Or will the gap widen? How about on the goal line? #VikingsST
— Marc Steidler (@masteidler) October 23, 2014
It was the second consecutive week we’ve seen Jerick McKinnon receive more snaps than Matt Asiata. McKinnon had 38 snaps, rushing for 103 yards on 19 carries, while Asiata had 26 on offense and 24 yards on six carries. At this point, I think McKinnon is the lead back given how he’s produced over the last few weeks in that role. He was the first running back to rush for over 100 yards against the Bills, who had the top ranked run defense at the time.
I think the gap will fluctuate depending on the situation, however. Asiata will likely remain as the short yardage back, and we could see more formations where both Asiata and McKinnon are in the game. I think it’s a safe bet that McKinnon will continue to receive most of the carries for the foreseeable future, and he should have another big game against a bad Bucs defense if the offensive line blocks well again.
@MasterStrib #Buccaneers have gave up the most points in NFL so far this yr. over/under on Teddy throwing 2 TDs this week? #VikingsST
— Brandon J Block (@letstalkpurple) October 23, 2014
I think it’ll be right at two touchdowns, so we’ll break even on this wager. This offense needs to have a big day against the Bucs defense, including rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. There won’t be any excuses accepted otherwise. This should be the same performance we saw from Bridgewater against the Falcons. He’s young and growing as a rookie, but he faced two really good defenses over the last two weeks. It was a learning experience, now it’s time for the rookie to take what he’s learned and go off on a bad team.
@MasterStrib Name some players you think will begin to ascend in the 2nd half of the season. #VikingsST Thanks!
— NFC North Bar Room (@AldoBarkeeper) October 23, 2014
Whenever tight end Kyle Rudolph recovers from sports hernia surgery, I think he’s a good candidate to surge in the second half. The Vikings have missed his presence, even with all the drops he had through the first three games. He’s a good blocker and good option on passing downs. As we saw during the preseason, Bridgewater loves throwing to tight ends and will benefit when Rudolph returns.
Defensively, this one is tough. The unit actually isn’t playing that bad, so picking guys like linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen or safety Harrison Smith would be too easy. Instead, I’ll pick defensive end Brian Robison. With the way Griffen has performed during the first half of the season, I think offenses will target him as the focal point on the Vikings defensive line. That should give Robison more one-on-one opportunities on pass downs. He had a sack on the first drive against the Bills that was negated by Barr’s personal foul penalty, but I’d expect Robison to get in the backfield a few more times this season.
The Twins fired Ron Gardenhire more than three weeks ago. At the time, GM Terry Ryan said there was no timetable for how long the process of finding a successor would take, but the best guess now is that it won’t happen until after the World Series — meaning it will be at least four weeks from Gardy’s firing date of Monday, Sept. 29.
How fast the Twins move ultimately won’t matter. But the most recent update offered by La Velle E. Neal on Wednesday makes us wonder: are the Twins taking their time and making sure they make a thorough decision at this point, or are they stalled?
We ask because all three of the top identified candidates (Paul Molitor, Doug Mientkiewicz and Torey Lovullo) have reportedly either interviewed multiple times or the Twins have permission to do so.
And yet Ryan is reportedly open to the idea of expanding the search to new candidates, and owner Jim Pohlad hasn’t yet been in on any of the interviews.
That first piece of information is a sign, at least to us, that either Ryan isn’t sold on any of the three front-runners or that his preferred candidate among the three — whomever it might be, though a lot of people would presume it to be Molitor — isn’t sold on the job from his end.
That second piece of information is a sign, at least to us, that the Twins really aren’t that close to making a decision. Pohlad presumably will be brought in only for the final interview with the candidate Ryan wants to hire.
Again, the timing won’t ultimately matter much. The process, though, is interesting and right now it’s reasonable to wonder if the wheels are turning — or if they’re just spinning.