PITTSBURGH — The Rays say they know what isn't wrong with closer Alex Colome, that he's not hurt or in a mental funk. And they seem certain that whatever led him to have three straight rough outings will soon be corrected.
"Alex is in fine spirits," manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday after a brief chat. "Alex has done a lot of really, really good things for us. He's had a couple hiccups here the last couple outings. We understand that, he understands that. I'm sure he will make the adjustments that he needs to make to get back to dominating like we know he's capable of doing."
Those adjustments don't sound like much: a matter of the timing in his delivery being off and changing his release point slightly, and also maybe in pitch selection/location.
"The biggest thing with Alex is he probably hasn't commanded the ball as well or as sharp as he showed prior to the last 10 days or so," Cash said. "And you look at his outings, the leadoff hitter has gotten on. … In the closing situation, you get him out, it seems to simplify the inning."
Over the previous three outings, Colome has blown two saves and allowed seven runs, raising his ERA from 1.95 to 3.57.
Turn of events get Kolarek to majors
LHP Adam Kolarek was driving home to Baltimore with his dad after being released by the Braves near the end of spring training when he got a phone call that literally turned his career around.
"We'd gotten to about North Carolina when the Rays called and we popped a U-turn and made it back by about 10 that night," Kolarek said. "It was a crazy day, and a special moment we'll have. I'm sure we'll laugh about it now, because it all worked out."
That's because going back to the Rays gave Kolarek the chance to pitch again with Triple-A Durham, as he did for part of 2016.
And pitching well again for the Bulls led to the best baseball news he had ever gotten, a callup to the majors for the first time at age 28 in his eighth pro season.
"Honestly, it's not like I ever lost hope or anything," Kolarek said. "I've always been very comfortable with my progression as a pitcher, and I feel like all the time it's taken me to get here I feel like I'm more than ready for the chance now."
Having demoted LHP Jose Alvarado, the Rays plan to use Kolarek heavily against lefty hitters, Cash said, noting his funky delivery and high percentage of ground ball outs.
As excited as Kolarek was to be here, he is hearing from many friends and relatives in the Baltimore area planning to see him this weekend.
Boxberger returns today, more shuffling
RHP Brad Boxberger will be activated today, having rehabbed his spring flexor issue and gotten over some oblique soreness. RHP Danny Farquhar was designated for assignment after Wednesday's game, opening a spot on the 40-man roster, as the Rays opted to instead keep RHP Jumbo Diaz (hip) … OF Colby Rasmus (hip) is eligible to come off the disabled list today, but he isn't ready, not even close enough for a rehab assignment to be scheduled. … RHP Austin Pruitt was sent down to Triple-A Durham with plans to shift him back to starting, providing depth with right-handers Jose De Leon and Taylor Guerrieri injured. … LHP Jose Alvarado was sent down "with a message," Cash said, to work on throwing his curveball for strikes more often and experimenting with a cutter/slider to get hitters off his fastball. … C Derek Norris (above), who was designated for assignment Saturday, is expected to clear release waivers today.
Number of the day
8 Players who will have made their big-league debuts for Rays this season once LHP Adam Kolarek pitches, second most in majors.
• All-Star voting ends tonight, with the Rays pushing hard to get Corey Dickerson past Seattle's Nelson Cruz and into the AL lineup as the DH. "It could go either way, so I'm not going to get my hopes up for it, but it was pretty cool to see people care and are voting for me consistently," Dickerson said.
• The Rays might tweak their rotation against the Cubs, moving RHP Chris Archer up to Tuesday so he gets an extra start before the All-Star break.
• Cash said he wants C Wilson Ramos "out there as much as possible" but will limit his duty going into the All-Star break given that he just returned to action.
• Orestes Destrade and Rich Hollenberg are on the trip and will do the pre- and postgame shows on location as the Fox Sports Sun studio in Fort Lauderdale is being renovated.