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Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Colome Sees Bad Luck Ruin His Spring

By Robbie Knopf
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This is the year for Alex Colome to establish himself in the major leagues. That isn’t an opinion–it’s a fact. Colome is out of options, and given his impressive arsenal, the Tampa Bay Rays are not going to expose him to waivers. He will be on their big league roster as long as he has to be there, and that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Whether as a starter or a reliever, Colome has the ability to make the Rays a better team.

However, the spring that was supposed to mark Colome’s ascension to baseball’s highest stage has been derailed by a pair of unfortunate circumstances. The situation could be worse–Colome could be injured or face another suspension for performance-enhancing drugs–but the exact fashion in which his plans have been foiled should leave us wondering why luck has been so squarely against him.

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People want to blame Alex Colome for his visa issues. Clearly he was lazy and didn’t apply early enough to arrive in camp in time. Maybe he got complacent about his place with the team, using his out-of-options status as an excuse. The reality is that Colome did not do anything to deserve the two-week delay that was forced upon him. Even he submitted the paperwork a day or two late–and he probably even sent it in on time–the fact that he need to wait for so long was out of his control. Visa issues are simply a bureaucratic nightmare.

Then Colome finally did arrive and the Rays were impressed. He had done everything he could to be ready the moment he arrived in America, throwing bullpen sessions and even facing live hitters. He was lined up to pitch this weekend before another freak occurrence struck him down: pneumonia. Remains in the hospital after heading there on Thursday, and he is expected to be sidelined from big league action for another week.

Instead of beginning the 2015 season on the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster, Alex Colome will begin it on the 15-day disabled list. Maybe he won’t be there for too long and arrive by the end of April if not the middle of it. We know he has the ability to dominate opposing hitters and make us forget about his DL stint before the year is through.

Even so, how is it possible that the rotation competition between Nate Karns and Colome never even got started? Maybe Karns would have won anyway and sent Colome to the bullpen, but Colome deserved a chance to prove himself more than ever yet still hasn’t appeared in a single game. The only numbers on the scorecard are a three and a zero–three starts for Karns versus zero for Colome. Karns has gone from a question mark to a lock to make the Rays’ roster.

In June, Matt Moore will return from Tommy John Surgery and rejoin an impressive Rays rotation. They are certainly hoping that it will consist of Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, and Moore. If Alex Colome is the pitcher that Moore replaces, then he will simply move to the bullpen. But what if it’s Karns instead? Will he go back to Triple-A? Will he join Colome in the relief corps? Will a trade be in order?

Every team in baseball has to account for a multiplicity of possible scenarios each season, but the Rays could not have been expecting for Colome to be delayed by a pair of fluke events that have nothing to do with his performance on the mound. The outset of the 2015 season has certainly gotten more complicated for the Rays, and we will have to see how much worse off they will be without Alex Colome to begin the year.

Next: Rays Spring Game 11: Nate Karns Tosses 4 Perfect IP

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