Colamarino Seizes The Opportunity

When top prospect Daric Barton was promoted to Oakland after the first round of the PCL playoffs, many Sacramento River Cats' fans worried about how the River Cats would do without their best hitter. As it turned out, Sacramento didn't miss a beat, as Brant Colamarino filled-in for Barton and hit .385 in the Championship series. Steve Holley spoke to Colamarino last week about his call-up.

METAIRIE, La. – Brant Colamarino was enjoying a quiet early September Sunday at home with his family. His favorite football team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, was playing on TV. In the backyard was a family cookout, complete with the usual assortment of barbecue, beans, potato salad and a few beers on display. Good times were being had by all.

It all seemed so typical: the food, the beer, the Steelers using the arch-rival Cleveland Browns as their perennial punching bag.

Most appetizing of all was not the food Colamarino and his family had been enjoying, nor the 35-7 beat-down put on by the Steelers.

Rather, it was the telephone call that came during the midst of it all.

It was Sacramento River Cats manager Tony DeFrancesco, calling with good news. Colamarino, a 26-year-old first baseman who had hit .241 in 101 games with Double-A Midland, was going to Triple-A.

"Tony called and said, 'We need you,'" recalled Colamarino.

Colamarino responded to the call. He joined the River Cats the next day in New Orleans for the start of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series and would hit .385 (5-for-13) in three games during the series.

Three games was all the 'Cats would need to win their third PCL Championship – all in the past five years – as the Oakland A's Triple-A affiliate since moving to Sacramento from Vancouver in 2000.

Colamarino was surprised by the call.

"I had no idea that I was going to be called up," he said prior to Game 2 of the series in New Orleans.

That was partially because of the down year Colamarino had had in Double-A after batting .285 with 17 home runs and a career-high 91 RBIs the previous season in the Texas League.

The other part was that Colamarino had been nursing a sore elbow that he sustained during the final week of the season with Midland.

The sore elbow stemmed from a game against the Frisco RoughRiders in late August in which Colamarino was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.

"I swung at a pitch," he described. "I thought it was a fastball and was trying to get back inside of it. It was actually a slider and caught my right elbow in the wrong position. I felt a little pull and a little tweak in it."

"I hadn't seen a pitch in almost two weeks (afterward)," he said.

Just because Colamarino was hurting did not mean he was giving up.

Both physically and mentally, he kept himself in fine shape as the season wound to a close in Midland.

Given the call he would receive a few days later, he was sure glad he did.

"It's a grind, but you can never give up," Colamarino said, "especially when you're at such a level as Double-A. If I'd given up with a week left in the season or two weeks and then gotten a call here, I'd have been in trouble."

Instead, with the pain in his elbow behind him, Colamarino would make the most of his tenure with Sacramento. He hit safely in all three games against New Orleans pitching, picking up back-to-back multi-hit games.

DeFrancesco couldn't have been more pleased with the addition of Colamarino or his gaudy numbers during the series.

"We're sure glad to have him," DeFrancesco said.

Having the success that Colamarino found with Sacramento gives the infielder a positive outlook heading into next year.

He said he viewed the unscripted call-up to Sacramento as a fresh start rather than just the continuation of a down year at Midland.

Now Colamarino has one game left with Sacramento before it's time to head back home. The River Cats will face the International League champion Richmond Braves Tuesday at 5 p.m. PDT in the Triple-A Championship Game, the "Bricktown Showdown," which can be seen on ESPN2.

"I've always worked hard and figured that as long as I did, good things will happen," Colamarino said.

They are at the moment anyway.

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