Tuesday, September 25, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

Rays journal: Colome has new look but same jersey, De Leon impresses, Romo finds sanctuary

PORT CHARLOTTE — Alex Colome figured, given all the trade talk, he'd have a new spring home by now. Instead, he showed up Tuesday at Rays camp with a new look – long braids and a beard.

"I didn't expect to be here, but I'm here now and I'm hopeful to do well," Colome said through team interpreter Manny Navarro.

With rumors likely to linger, the challenge for Colome, who led the majors last season in saves, is to not get caught up wondering whether he also will be wearing a new jersey later this spring or during the season.

"I don't know; but my job right now is just to prepare myself to play wherever I play,"  he said. "My job is to make sure I'm there health-wise and stay strong and get that opportunity to pitch and not worry about the trade talks or anything else outside of the game. It's something you can't control."

St. Louis was, and still may be, among the most interested teams. Colome fueled that speculation during the winter meetings by following the Cardinals official and three other team-related Instagram accounts.

"A (Cardinals) fan contacted me, and I responded to do something funny, joking around," he explained.

From the bosses

Among tidbits from Tuesday's media session with manager Kevin Cash and top execs Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom: RHP Jose De Leon has already impressed in rebounding from his lost 2017 season in terms of conditioning and performance, Cash noting he "seems like a different pitcher." … There will be an increased focus on defense and fundamentals during camp, but more through messaging than additional drill work. … Cash said there will be "a lot of candidates" at second base, with Daniel Robertson getting work at multiple positions, including the outfield. … Leftfield will be split between Corey Dickerson, Mallex Smith and Denard Span, though that will change if/when Dickerson or Span are traded. … Top 2017 pick Brendan McKay, who won't be in big-league  camp, will continue as both a pitcher and first baseman/DH as he likely moves to either Class A Bowling Green or Charlotte.

Quote of the day

"They allowed me to find a sense of happiness and re-establish my sanctuary.''

— RHP Sergio Romo, on the comfort he found last year with Rays after being acquired from the Dodgers, leading him to feel loyalty to re-sign despite a handful of other offers, getting a $2.5-million, one-year deal.

Number of the day

59

Players, of 68 rostered, who reported to camp, including all pitchers and catchers except RHP Jake Odorizzi, who is due in for Wednesday's first workout after having his arbitration hearing Monday in Arizona, and C Jesus Sucre, who is delayed by visa issues.

Winding waiver wire winner

To make room for Romo on the roster, the Rays put INF Micah Johnson on waivers, and when he went unclaimed out-righted him to Triple-A, though he'll stay in camp. Since the end of last season, Johnson was waived by the Braves, claimed by the Reds, waived by the Reds, claimed by the Giants, waived by the Giants, claimed by the Rays and now waived by the Rays. In theory, Rays win.

Miscellany

* Single game tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday via raysbaseball.com and Tuesday at the Trop box office and by phone. There are several pre-sales, including one for Insiders on Thursday. Register by noon Wednesday at raysbaseball.com/newsletter.

* INF Andrew Velazquez, who played last season at Double-A, was added to the camp roster.

* There was no ruling announced yet on Odorizzi case, with the panel deciding between his team's $6.05-million offer and his $6.35-million request.

The dish

The Rays open spring training today in Port Charlotte, with the first workout for pitchers and catchers starting Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., lasting about 2 ½ hours  and continuing daily through Feb. 22 at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road). For more information: (941) 235-5025.

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