Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Alex Colome looks like answer to key Rays question

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays won't know for sure if Alex Colome can handle the ninth-inning closing duties he appears to be in line for until he actually does it, and probably a couple of times at that.

But he sure looks the part.

Colome has the appealing arsenal, an upper 90s fastball paired with a wicked cutter/slider, plus a curveball and changeup to sprinkle in. He has the aggressive attitude to go after hitters, with no concern for who it is or what the count or situation may be. He has the abundant confidence, evidenced by his barrel-chested strut as well as his impactful words.

And he has the, well, look.

"He does look mean," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I would not want to see him in a back alley."

Just the view from the field can be threatening enough.

"He definitely doesn't look like a softy on the mound," third baseman Evan Longoria said. "There's no doubt about that — it's definitely intimidating to watch him come in. And his ball moves all over the place, too."

The intimidation factor, starting with his intense glare, can be another weapon.

Colome, who appears the first choice to fill in for injured closer Brad Boxberger, likes knowing he has hitters a bit concerned.

"They think I'm (mad) but I'm not. I'm only thinking about throwing strikes," he said. "The guys know when we are off the field we joke, we talk. But when I'm on the mound, I cannot be smiling. I can't."

Off the field, Cash said Colome is "the nicest guy in the world," which makes him all the more interesting to play with.

"It's funny," catcher Curt Casali said. "He's this big, overpowering figure, and you're kind of immediately scared of him because of how mean he looks. Then you talk to him, and he's soft-spoken and really quiet in the clubhouse.

"But, gosh, once he steps on that mound, he flips a switch and he wants to throw the ball really, really hard and he wants to stick it to the hitters. Just stick it to them. … He's not afraid. And if you give him a wrong look as a hitter, one might be coming in a little high."

Colome, 27, has grown into this role, having worked as a starter with mixed results during a long climb through the Rays' minor-league system after signing in 2007. He moved to the bullpen upon Matt Moore's initial return to the rotation last July and quickly adapted, taking the advice of bullpen coach Stan Boroski and pitching coach Jim Hickey to become more aggressive.

"The second he went to the bullpen," Cash said, "it seemed like he really bought into Stan and Hick's approach of, 'Let's let your stuff play. You've got as good of stuff as anybody on this pitching staff. Let's get into attack mode and get as many outs as possible as quickly as you can because we want you to be able to pitch the next day for us.' "

Plus, Colome has learned to stay calm when things aren't going well.

"I like when he's out there because he never really seems rattled," Longoria said. "When you're looking for back end of the bullpen guys, you're looking for body or facial cues to let you know if he's panicking or if he's still under control."

Though Colome needed a lot of refining, Moore said he saw encouraging signs way back in his first pro season in Princeton, W.Va., in 2008.

"From the first day we played in rookie ball together, that guy doesn't shy away from anything," Moore said. "There isn't a 2-0, 3-0 count that he's not going to challenge somebody. There isn't a backdown button for that guy.

"Obviously it stings pretty hard to have Boxberger down right now, but when you've got a horse like Colome back there that really doesn't have fear in his game, we're looking forward to seeing how he's going to do at the end of the game."

Though Colome has never saved a game in the minors or majors (0-for-5), he has done it a couple of times pitching for Escogido during winter ball in his native Dominican Republic.

He has no doubts — no surprise — he is up to the task.

"I worked for this," Colome said. "I'm ready. I'm ready to do this."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

   
Comments
Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

Archer’s sparkling start precedes surreal finish

By now, we presume you've had a few hours to digest the Rays' improbable 10-inning triumph Friday night.So instead of rehashing the whole bizarre body of work, how 'bout a closer look at the workmanship. Specifically, Chris Archer's.Partially lost in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

Now Batting in Double A: Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero

HARTFORD, Conn. — Craig Breslow is 37 years old, with a dozen years of experience as a left-handed reliever in the major leagues. He is pitching now for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, just getting to know his teammates. In their openin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Published: 04/20/18
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Published: 04/20/18
For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

For starters: Rays vs. Twins, 7:10 p.m.

Tonight's Rays lineup against the Twins. Brad Miller back in the lineup following his DL stint (left groin strain). First pitch at 7:10 p.m.LF Denard SpanDH C.J. CronRF Carlos Gomez1B Brad Miller3B Daniel Robertson2B Joey WendleC Wilson RamosCF Malle...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Published: 04/20/18
Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

Wall Street Journal: Baseball in Florida ‘has been a disaster’

The Rays and Miami Marlins "are at a moment of reckoning" after histories of low attendance and an offseason in which they sold off many of their top players and were singled out by the MLB Players Association for failing to spend revenue-sharing mon...
Published: 04/20/18
Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays’ Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays RHP Chris Archer goes into tonight's start against the Twins with no trouble moving on from his messy Saturday performance against the Phillies that included arguably the worst inning of his career."It's already gone," Archer said Wednesday...
Published: 04/20/18
Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Memorable off day for Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough

Rays rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough has enjoyed everything about his first major-league experience, from pitching in the games to traveling in top-notch style to getting to play in front of family and friends to seeing his first paycheck.And then the Lake...
Published: 04/20/18