7/4/2014 7:38 P.M. ET
Fourth of July holds special place for Gardenhire
By Rhett Bollinger / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Fourth of July will always have a special place in Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's heart.
Of course, it's Independence Day, but it's also Lou Gehrig's Day around baseball, as it's the 75th anniversary of his iconic "Luckiest Man" speech.
Major League Baseball is raising awareness and raising funds to combat ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) to honor Gehrig, who passed away from the disease on June 2, 1941, at the age of 37. MLB donated $300,000 to organizations that combat ALS, while a special video is being played in all ballparks featuring one first baseman from each club reciting a line from Gehrig's speech.
It hits close to home for Gardenhire, as Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach and former Twins great Kent Hrbek both lost their fathers to the disease.
"I've been a part of that since I first got to Minnesota with Hrbie and Steiny losing their fathers to this disease, so we've done a lot of fundraising for that with the Black Woods Blizzard Tour," Gardenhire said. "So I've learned a lot more about the disease and what it does to people. So we've tried what we can to end it, or at least help the people who have it. So this is a big day."
The Twins and Yankees also both wore special stars and stripes themed caps as part of the Independence Day festivities on Friday at Target Field. Gardenhire said it's one of his favorite days during the baseball season, as it also pays tribute to current and former members of the military.
"Celebrating the Fourth of July is a cool thing," Gardenhire said. "It's a big part of baseball. So you always think of all the servicemen and women serving this country, and my father was one of them. So there's a lot of meaning to this day."
Gardy excited to be part of AL coaching staff
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's looking forward to being a part of the coaching staff for the All-Star Game, which will be held at Target Field on July 15.
Gardenhire was named to the staff by Red Sox manager John Farrell, who also named Indians skipper Terry Francona. It's the third time Gardenhire has been on All-Star coaching staff, as he was also on the staff in 2003 at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field and in '07 at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
"It'll be fun being around John and his coaching staff," Gardenhire said. "I know those guys pretty decent. And Francona is always a blast. I've been around a few of these. I like watching the players and how they go about their business because you understand from the way they prepare why they are where they're at."
Gardenhire, though, said not to expect to see him in his old role coaching third base, as he doesn't want to make the highlight reels the way Tommy Lasorda did in 2001 when he flipped over backwards trying to avoid a bat coming at him.
"I don't want to get knocked down like Tommy Lasorda did," Gardenhire said with a laugh. "I'll be right there on the bench. I've coached first base for one or two innings. But my preference is to be on the bench and let John's coaching staff do their thing. They deserve it."
Colabello goes deep in return to big leagues
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Colabello got his first start Friday since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on Wednesday, as he served as the designated hitter against the Yankees and homered in his first at-bat.
Colabello made the most of his return, launching a solo homer off right-hander Chase Whitley in the second inning of Minnesota's 6-5 loss at Target Field. Colabello ended up going 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
"He put a nice swing on the ball and he drove it out of the park," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need more of that. It was a good start for him."
It marked Colabello's first game since May 23, as he was optioned to Rochester on May 25 after falling into a slump in May on the heels of a hot April. In his first stint with the Twins earlier this season, Colabello hit .232/.280/.377 with four homers, 10 doubles and 30 RBIs in 40 games.
"He had a great first month with us, but then he scuffled along," Gardenhire said. "But then he went down and found his swing again. So we just want him back out there and see him swing to see where he's at."
Colabello has had trouble adjusting to a bench role in the past but was swinging the bat well at Triple-A over the last month while getting consistent playing time. In his last 29 games at Rochester, Colabello hit .318/.392/.561 with six homers, eight doubles and 25 RBIs. Now he'll have to see if he can carry that over without playing every day.
"It is a role, and as a player you have to adjust to a role," Gardenhire said. "His role right now is going to be one of those [bench] guys, so he'll have to have his swing going when he gets in these games."