Chris Colabello to play for Team Italy at World Baseball Classic

Chris Colabello returned to baseball action with a bang, hitting a home run for the Buffalo Bisons in his first at bat.

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Chris Colabello will suit up for Team Italy at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, according to Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell.

The 33-year-old played just 10 games for the Blue Jays this season before he was handed a lengthy suspension by Major League Baseball. The violation of MLB’s drug program came after dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), an anabolic steroid, found its way into his urine sample and resulted in an 80-game ban.

The suspension followed a career year that saw Colabello hit .321 with 15 home runs on his way to becoming an integral part of a Blue Jays team that led MLB in scoring en route to an AL East title.

Colabello’s suspension came with serious repercussions. Upon returning from the 80-game break, he could return to the Blue Jays’ regular season lineup, but was deemed ineligible for the playoffs. With Edwin Encarnacion and Justin Smoak contributing at the big-league level, the Blue Jays left Colabello at triple-A, where he slashed .180/.248/.288 with five home runs in 40 games with the Buffalo Bisons.

Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, Colabello will represent the country he spent his childhood in, as his father pitched in the Italian Baseball League for several seasons.

Italy is a part of Group D and will compete against Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico in round robin play when the WBC gets underway in March. Colabello finished the 2013 tournament 5-for-18 with two home runs and seven RBIs — including a three-run homer in Italy’s 14-4 victory against Canada.

Other notable players to suit up for Italy in the 2013 World Baseball Classic are Jason Grilli, Anthony Rizzo, Pat Venditte, Nick Punto and Chris Denorfia.

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