MIAMI — The Rays called up hard-throwing RHP Alex Colome to add some depth to their shorthanded bullpen. Instead, Colome will step into their rotation and make his major-league debut tonight against the Marlins.
The change was the result of a small cut on RHP Alex Cobb's right middle finger that will force his next start, which was set for Friday, to be pushed back at least a few days.
Already having to fill a spot in their rotation Saturday, the Rays scrambled, announcing after Wednesday's game that Colome will start tonight against the Marlins, and LHP Matt Moore will be pushed back to Friday against the hotter-hitting Indians. RHP Chris Archer seems likely to be called up to start Saturday.
Cobb said he developed "a little split" between the nail and the edge of his finger in Sunday's game against the Yankees, bad enough that it started bleeding. He waited an extra day, until Wednesday, to throw his bullpen session but said he couldn't properly grip his off-speed pitches and it "broke open a little bit again."
"Curveball and changeup both would have hurt," Cobb said. "Fastball felt fine, but I didn't feel comfortable going into the game without knowing if I'd be able to throw my off-speed pitches."
Cobb, who has been one of the Rays' best starters, said he hoped the finger would heal in time to start Sunday in Cleveland or, with the team off Monday, Tuesday in Detroit. Manager Joe Maddon said "it's not going to be far into the future.''
Colome, 24, has high-end stuff and high-ceiling potential, and he has been doing well as a starter at Triple-A Durham, going 4-5, 2.60 with 61 strikeouts in 55⅓ innings.
He credited his success to an improved changeup, having worked with RHP Joel Peralta in spring training, and altered mechanics, thanks to Durham pitching coach Neil Allen, but most impressive is his upper-90s fastball.
Colome has been in the Rays organization since 2007 and is the first big-league product of the team's Dominican Republic academy in the Andrew Friedman regime. Already thrilled at being called up, Colome — nephew of former Rays reliever Jesus Colome — was even more excited to find out postgame he would be starting, admitting for the second straight night it would be hard to sleep.
"It's a dream I've been waiting for for a long time," he said. "I feel great, my first time in the big leagues and I'm starting."
He has been told to not do anything different: "I'm going to try to do the same job I do in Durham. I'm not going to change anything — throw strikes, throw (the ball) down and make the guys out."
Archer (5-3, 3.96) seems the more likely choice to start Saturday, though the Rays could also opt for LHP Alex Torres, who was up earlier to pitch in relief and is 2-2, 3.52 at Durham.
FOR EVERY ACTION: RHP Juan Sandoval, the free agent signee who is blind in his right eye, was promoted from Double-A Montgomery and started for Durham, allowing one run in 3⅔ innings. He 1-1, 3.14 with 11 saves in 12 chances for the Biscuits.
MISCELLANY: CF Desmond Jennings had a rough night on the bases, picked off first in the second then called out after oversliding second during a fourth-inning steal attempt. … About 50 front-office employees took a bus down for the game. … Tuesday's broadcast auction raised a record $90,000 for the Rays Baseball and Tampa General Hospital foundations.