FORT MYERS — The Rays lost some of their starting pitching depth and insurance on Monday when prospect RHP Alex Colome was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Colome, 25, made an impressive major-league debut last season, beating the Marlins on May 30 and making two other solid starts, but he didn't pitch again in the majors or minors after June 28 due to an elbow injury. Baseball America ranked him as their No. 5 prospect.
Though RHP Jake Odorizzi won the open spot in the rotation caused by RHP Jeremy Hellickson's elbow surgery, Colome was considered among the top candidates at Triple A if the Rays needed more help.
The Rays should know this morning if veteran LHP Erik Bedard, who lost out to Odorizzi, is willing to go to Triple A (which would provide more depth) or will seek a big-league job elsewhere. He is due a $100,000 payment today to go to the minors.
The Rays said in a statement they were "disappointed" to learn of Colome's violation, restated their support for MLB's drug policy and had no further comment. Colome's agents at the Beverly Hills Sports Council declined comment.
Colome, per MLB, tested positive for Boldenone, an anabolic steroid primarily for veterinary use. Per MLB documents, Colome is the 77th player suspended for using Boldenone since 2008, but the first on a major-league 40-man roster; most were young players in the Dominican Summer League.
Colome is the 14th Rays player to be suspended for drug reasons since the start of the 2012 season, which appears to be the most of any team.
Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays gave Bedard, who has a March 31 opt-out clause, "a significant amount of latitude" to decide, and he wasn't concerned that he has not been in camp since the rotation decision was announced Saturday. "We want him to stay," Maddon said.
With Colome unavailable until late May (and Hellickson not expected back until around June 1), the Rays' top options at Triple A will be RHP Nathan Karns, who has made three big-league starts, and LHP Enny Romero, who has made one.
MOORE OKAY: The Rays said LHP Matt Moore is expected to make his next start after X-rays on his jaw and teeth were negative.
Moore, who was struck in the face by a line drive on Sunday and received four or five stitches in his lip, reported what the team called "mild soreness" on Monday but went through a light workout in Port Charlotte.
"He's doing good," Maddon said, before the X-ray results were known. "Little bit of bruised lip, little bit swollen, but otherwise he said he felt really good. … Smiled naturally, felt good, no pains, no headaches, no dizziness, none of that. So we may have escaped a pretty difficult moment there."
Moore is set to make his final exhibition start Friday, then pitch the third game of the season vs. Toronto on April 2.
LINING UP: Maddon is starting to work out his regular-season batting orders, talking about, against right-handers anyway, having OF David DeJesus lead off (though he was going to look at OF Matt Joyce there Monday), with the potential — though never permanent — to be followed by OF Wil Myers, 2B Ben Zobrist, 3B Evan Longoria, 1B James Loney, CF Desmond Jennings, Joyce, the catcher and SS Yunel Escobar.
Against lefties, Jennings may lead off, with the rest in flux as Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez typically will play in place of DeJesus and Joyce, or Loney.
RAIN DAY: The Rays made the nearly one-hour bus trip to Fort Myers in the rain, then waited about two hours for the game against the Twins to be cancelled. RHP Chris Archer, who was to start, went back to Port Charlotte and threw in the batting cages.
MISCELLANY: SS prospect Hak-Ju Lee will miss 3-4 weeks with what the team said is a left calf strain, unrelated to the left knee injury and surgery that cost him most of 2013. … Though the Rays have to fill two bullpen spots from the trio of RHPs Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke and non-roster veteran Mark Lowe, Maddon said the more difficult decision is for the final bench spot between OF Brandon Guyer and non-roster INFs Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix, though a decision could come today.