ST. PETERSBURG — Rays third baseman Evan Longoria had a compelling case to deserve a spot on the All-Star team, but closer Alex Colome apparently was a better fit for American League/Royals manager Ned Yost.
As a result, Colome is — somewhat unexpectedly —headed to San Diego for next week's game, and Longoria, unless he unexpectedly wins the fan vote of five candidates for the final spot, is not.
Colome, who was activated from the disabled list earlier Tuesday after a bout with biceps tendinitis, at first didn't know why he was summoned to manager Kevin Cash's office before the game, then was thrilled with the news. Assigned closing duties for the first time after incumbent Brad Boxberger was injured in March, Colome has converted all 19 save chances, fifth most in the AL, with a stellar 1.76 ERA.
"It's something crazy," Colome 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."
Cash said he has been impressed with how Colome has progressed since being bumped from the rotation to the bullpen during last season, in terms of what he has done, evolving into "elite status," and how he has done it.
"I think that's awesome. Very much earned for Alex, a guy that has come through the system and has really taken to his role," Cash said of the choices. "As far as for Evan, I think it's an honor to be in that top five. I hope our fan base and people outside of our fan base understand what type of year he's having and can vote him in there. We feel he's definitely worthy."
Longoria seemed worthy of what would have been his fourth selection, hitting .278 with 18 homers and 45 RBIs. But with Baltimore's Manny Machado elected the starter, and Toronto's Josh Donaldson chosen by the players, Longoria's fate rested with Yost, who consults with MLB officials.
With seven spots to fill on the 33-man roster, Yost had to include representatives from three teams that didn't have any players voted in. He did that by choosing infielder Eduardo Nunez of the Twins and ex-Rays catcher Stephen Vogt as the two extra position players, then Colome. Yost added four other pitchers: Dellin Betances (Yankees), Brad Brach (Orioles), Kelvin Herrera (Royals) and Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox). He then also chose Will Harris (Astros) to replace injured Wade Davis, a players choice.
Longoria, who won the fan vote to make the 2008 team, is competing against Ian Kinsler (Tigers), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), Michael Saunders (Blue Jays) and George Springer (Astros). Voting is on mlb.com through 4 p.m. Friday.
"I'm always excited to be considered in that group," Longoria said, making clear he was "very happy" for Colome. "I'm honored to be on the final ballot. I was on it in 2008, and we came through and won it, so hopefully we can rally the troops and get some votes and get me there again."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.