PORT CHARLOTTE — Though RHP Chris Archer has done most of the talking, participating in the World Baseball Classic is also a big deal for Rays closer Alex Colome, whose Dominican Republic team opens play tonight in Miami.
"For me, it's very important because we can represent our country, and our friends and family can see," Colome said. "In the Dominican, we only know about baseball. It's everywhere. Everybody likes baseball, and they feel excited to see us play and represent the Dominican."
Colome was honored to be invited to play for the defending champs after his 2016 All-Star breakout season but said he agreed but contingent on how he felt in Rays camp, and made the final decision last week to go ahead.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm thinking about the season with the Rays, but I'm also thinking about playing for the Dominican. I want to do the best I can do."
Colome said he discussed his WBC schedule with pitching coach Jim Hickey, and the plan is to be limited to one-inning stints and not pitch on back-to-back days. This will be the second big event for Colome at Marlins Park; he made his debut there in May 2013.
A third Ray participating in the first round is prospect LHP Jose Alvarado, who is with the Venezuelan team.
Taking aim at Archer
The Colombia team that played in Port Charlotte on Wednesday will face Rays top starter Chris Archer on Friday when he pitches Team USA's WBC opener, and it's ready for him. "I know he has pretty good stuff," manager Luis Urueta said. "I know he didn't have his best year last year, but that doesn't mean he isn't still a good pitcher, a guy with good stuff. He might struggle with command occasionally. We're going to try to get the best out of him in the first half of the game. I know it's going to be tough to get to the bullpen, but we have our strategies and a way to be creative and score some runs. … Urueta chose White Sox LHP Jose Quintana to start Friday over Braves RHP Julio Teheran.
Today marks 22 years since the Devil Rays expansion franchise was awarded to then-owner Vince Naimioli during a meeting of MLB owners in Palm Beach, with the team starting play in 1998.
1B Logan Morrison made his first appearance of the spring coming off left wrist surgery, going 0-for-3, with plans to DH again today and make his first appearance in the field next week. … RHP Shawn Tolleson hasn't pitched since March 3 and might not for several more days due to a back spasm. … RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who tweaked a hamstring in the first workout, made his first spring appearance Wednesday. … RHP Cory Rasmus is sidelined with a groin issue that bothered him in his Feb. 25 debut.
Game report: Rays face Colombia WBC
SS Tim Beckham continued his strong spring with a leadoff double and a two-run homer. … RHP Chase Whitley started and worked three solid innings. … RHP Jose De Leon, who had a rough March 2 debut, failing to get through the first, worked two innings, allowing a homer and a walk with no strikeouts. … OF Steven Souza Jr. hit a two-run homer.
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. The team held a pregame moment of silence in honor of longtime Triple-A Durham clubhouse manager Colin Saunders, who died at age 42 Sunday from diabetes-released causes.
. Nice touch for the Charlotte Sports Park crew to have a Colombian flag and to display it graphically on the scoreboard during the anthem.