Rays Alex Colome chosen for AL All-Star team, Longoria snubbed
RHP Alex Colome came to spring training not knowing how big of a role he would have in the Rays' bullpen. Now he's headed to the All-Star Game.
Colome was chosen on Tuesday for the American League All-Star team; third baseman Evan Longoria, who had deserving credentials, was not, though he is on the five-man ballot for the fan vote for the final spot.
Colome took over for injured closer Brad Boxberger and has excelled in his new role, converting all 19 saves chances, fifth most in the AL, with a stellar 1.76 ERA. He was activated from the disabled list earlier Tuesday after missing two weeks with biceps tendinitis.
"I feel excited, happy,'' Colome said. "(A lot of) guys want to make the team always, but not everybody has the chance. This is my second year in the big leagues and I have the opportunity to be in the All-Star Game.''
Colome, 27, said he didn't know what to think when piching coach Jim Hickey told him before Tuesday's game that manager Kevin Cash wanted to see him in his office.
"I say, "I don't like to be here in the office, I don't do nothing bad,' '' Colome said. "(Cash) said, "No, no, no it's good today.' ''
Colome acknowledged how unexpected his rise was.
"It's something crazy,'' he said. "In spring training I never think about being in the All-Star Game. I don't know what I'm doing - Boxberger is closing I take maybe the eighth (inning), the seventh. And I have the opportunity to take the closer (role) and do the job, and they give me the opportunity.''
Speaking before the selections were announced, Cash said both Colome and Longoria were deserving of going to San Diego for next week's game.
What has impressed Cash the most was how Colome handled the move from the rotation during the 2015 season.
"He's evolved into that elite status at the back end of the bullpen,'' Cash said. "Last year as a starter, he had some good starts, he had some not so good starts. There were some inconsistencies there.
"Then, to his credit, he got sent to the bullpen. He didn't pout. He kind of evolved. I think he took some messages from Jim Hickey and (bullpen coach) Stan Boroski about reigning in the way he attacks hitters and utilizing his pitches. You start him off in a role, you give him a little bit more leveraged situations as the season got deeper, and at the end of year we had a ton of faith in him because of what he's done.
"And then this year he's kind of picked up from where he left off, and even more so.''
Also impressive, Cash said, is how Colome has gone about his high-pressure work.
"He's as calm as any closer Ive seen throughout the course of the year at handling situations,'' Cash said. "There's some situations this year he's put himself into jams, there's some that we've helped him (by) not making plays. And nothing seems to alter him on the mound. He's continued to go out and execute pitches and have really, really good results.''
Longoria seemed worthy of what would have been his fourth selection, hitting . .278 with 18 homers and 45 RBIs. Baltimore's Manny Machado was elected the starter at third base.?
Instead, Longoria is on the ballot with Detroit's Ian Kinsler. Boston's Dustin Pedroia, Toronto's Michael Saunders and Houston's George Springer.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays