Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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

Tampa Bay Rays make a small deal, acquire INF Joey Wendle

While continuing discussions on bigger topics, the Rays made a small deal Monday, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's for a player to be named later or cash.Wendle, 27, spent part of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 over 36 games. ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 1

UPDATE, 6:14: The Rays continued talks with no major moves seemingly close, but did make a small deal, acquiring INF Joey Wendle from the A's. Wendle, 27, has spent parts of the last two seasons in the majors, hitting .266 in 36 games. He is a lefty ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.The Rockies and Mets joined ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays’ dismantling

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.The Yankees’ formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure o...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash on trade speculation, bullpen staffing, Yankees addition of Giancarlo Stanton

Rays manager Kevin Cash was first up in the media room at the winter meetings today and here are a few up the more interesting things he said:* On trade speculation regarding their veterans such as Chris Archer and Evan Longoria: "I know there is a l...
Published: 12/11/17
Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Tampa Bay Rays cornerstone Evan Longoria “somewhere in limbo” due to trade speculation

Franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria considers his future with the Rays "somewhere in limbo" based on speculation he could be traded as part of a cost-cutting and rebuilding movement."I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria told the Tampa Ba...
Published: 12/11/17
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

AL East life gets even tougher for Rays with Yankees acquiring slugger Giancarlo Stanton from Marlins

The Marlins apparently found a trade to Giancarlo Stanton's liking, reportedly striking a deal early Saturday to send the slugging outfielder to the Yankees.That's bad news for the Rays and the other AL East teams, who will now have to face Stanton &...
Published: 12/09/17
Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed takes part in event supporting fight against ALS

Tampa Bay Rays radio broadcaster Andy Freed was up early Saturday to meet up with the Bladerunners team in Clearwater at the ALS Association Florida Chapter's annual Ride, Run, Roll to Defeat ALS, supporting Mike Leist, a former history teacher at St...
Published: 12/09/17
Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

Rays officials head to Disney for this week’s winter meetings admitting they don’t know what they’re doing. Wait — that’s not exactly right. It’s more that they don’t know what they’re going to do.Having spent months collecting info and discussing op...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/09/17