Right-hander Alex Colome was surprised to be shown the door by the Mariners — along with numerous other high profile teammates from an 89-win team this winter — but his reaction to last Friday’s trade which sent him to the White Sox brightened when told an opportunity to close again would be his.
“I can’t tell you right now I am going to be the closer, that’s not my place to say but I know I will have to earn that position,” Colome said. “It’s something to prove in spring training, I’m confident in myself and I know I can do the job.”
Colome said knowing the Sox are building for a promising future was a plus.
“I felt happy knowing it’s a young team that is planning to fight for a playoff spot in years to come,’’ he said Thursday through translator Billy Russo.
Colome has closed before, saving 47 games for the Rays in 2017. He saved 37 in 2016 and made the AL All-Star team.
Colome said he didn’t embrace taking on the role of setup man behind dominant closer Edwin Diaz in Seattle after the Rays dealt him last summer.
“I wasn’t happy. My mind wasn’t in the right spot but when I got to Seattle,” he said.
He had chalked up 11 saves in the Rays pen, but warmed up to setup duty after time.
“I didn’t notice much difference in being a setup man and closer,” he said. “In those situations you’re getting into the game with the game on the line and you have to perform.’’
But like he said, the ninth inning is where it’s at in his view and he hopes to break spring training as the Sox’ guy in that role.
Colome, 29, cost the Sox catcher Omar Narvaez, whose defense paled next to a productive left-handed bat. Colome, who owns a 2.78 ERA with strikeout and walk rates of 9.5 and 2.8 per nine innings from 2016-18, is projected to earn about $7 million in arbitration and is under contract control through 2020.
“He fits in well for the short-term over the course of the next two seasons,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “How he’ll fit in ’21 and beyond, it’s way premature to make that assessment. Obviously we can extend him at some point during his stay here or revisit it once he hits free agency.
“We’re very optimistic about what he’s going to bring the for at least next two seasons. If it makes sense at that point to extend him and have him continue to be part of this growing core into ’21 and beyond, we’ll certainly remain open-minded to that.”
The Sox will value his veteran leadership alongside righty Nate Jones in what figures to be an otherwise young bullpen.
Colome says he’s up for being a veteran voice.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I can be a very good example for the guys. I like to talk to the guys and help the best way I can. Not just for the guys in the bullpen but throughout the whole team.”