SAN FRANCISCO -- Chris Colabello took the baseball world by storm with a strong April, but he was demoted to Triple-A Rochester following Sunday's 8-1 loss to the Giants. Along with Colabello, outfielder Chris Herrmann was also sent down to make room for outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia, who have both been rehabbing wrist injuries lately.
It's not often that you see a team demote its RBI leader, but that's the case with Colabello, who is tops on Minnesota with 30 driven in this year.
"He's been struggling for a while here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Colabello. "Tough one there after his start and what he did. Not easy to do, but I think we can all see he needs some swings right now."
Colabello, 30, seemingly came out of nowhere and batted .295/.343/.484 with three homers and 27 RBIs in April. But he's gone hitless in his last 22 at-bats, in a month when he's hitting .125/.169/.196 with a homer, three RBIs and 24 strikeouts against just three walks.
He was out of the starting lineup for the fifth straight game on Sunday and had just one at-bat since May 17, coming in a pinch-hit appearance on Friday night. While Gardenhire said the league might have figured out Colabello and attacked him differently in recent weeks, the outfielder put the blame solely on his own shoulders.
"Lack of execution," Colabello said. "I fouled a lot of balls back. I was dealing with some stuff and let it get to me a little bit, but started feeling better here the past couple of weeks. Obviously, just not a lot of opportunity."
Willingham is expected to reclaim his role as the team's everyday left fielder while Arcia showed some nice pop with 14 homers in 97 games last year and will be added to the outfield rotation. Going forward, Gardenhire said Aaron Hicks will continue to get the bulk of the playing time in center field.
Though Colabello was disappointed to be sent back to Triple-A, he is looking forward to playing every day again as he tries to come back to the big leagues.
"I haven't had any [doubts] for a long time," Colabello said. "Remove the doubts? I think there will always be people that doubt you. If there weren't that wouldn't be life. I believe in my ability and that's why I stayed here this year. I think I can play at this level."
Herrmann, 26, was batting .122 with no extra-base hits in 41 at-bats with Minnesota at the time of his demotion.
Gardenhire advocates switch with Interleague Play
SAN FRANCISCO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire offered up an interesting idea to spice up Interleague Play as his team wrapped up its five-game Interleague swing through San Diego and San Francisco.
"I said a long time ago, if you're going to do this format, then you have the [designated hitter] in the National League and the pitchers hit in the American League cities," Gardenhire said. "If you want fans to see something different, that's how you do it. Whether the fans would like that or not, they should have a say on it."
Now in his 13th year at the helm of the Twins and a longtime baseball veteran, Gardenhire has seen MLB change with Interleague Play.
While AL teams used to prepare for two concentrated Interleague stretches per season, Gardenhire said his club is at a disadvantage now since pitchers have to prepare in infrequent spurts throughout the year.
Minnesota's pitchers entered Sunday's contest batting 0-for-9 with six strikeouts after hitting a combined 1-for-19 last year. But Gardenhire still has faith in his pitchers at the plate.
"There are no automatic outs," Gardenhire said with a smile. "Less ability in some of the swings but not automatic outs. If you have a bat in your hand and a guy throws the ball towards you, you have a chance."
Twins shuffle lineup for series finale vs. Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- After seeing his team score just two combined runs in the first first two contests of the series against the Giants, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made some switches to his lineup on Sunday.
But the skipper also suggested other methods to get the offense going.
"You have to find ways," Gardenhire said. "You have to ad-lib a little bit, drop a few bunts down, make something happen."
Eduardo Nunez earned his first start of the series in left field, batting fifth, while utility man Danny Santana received his second start of the year in center. Though Gardenhire said he looks forward to seeing the speedy Santana fly around the expansive center field at AT&T Park, he also had another reason for putting the 23-year-old in the lineup.
"It's Mother's Day in the Dominican [Republic]," Gardenhire said. "The kid is ready to do something big. Put him in."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.