ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.
How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid situation, manager Kevin Cash said Saturday, before floating another unorthodox idea.
"The good answer is maybe we'll do a starter in there, start the bullpen, bring the starter in to close. I'll talk to (Chris) Archer," he joked, referring to their top starter.
Cash said the team will use some combination of Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe and maybe Sergio Romo, who has opened three of the Rays' past seven games. Alvarado, Roe and Romo have finished three games apiece this season.
"I don't think we're in a position to name a closer right now," he said. "We've learned over many years of doing this that games are won and lost in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, and we want to be prepare to use who we feel is best equipped to get those outs right then and then we'll figure out the ninth when that time comes."
Carlos Gomez returned to the lineup, getting the start in rightfield. He went 0-for-2 with two walks. He had been out of action since straining his groin May 15.
Gomez, who hit two home runs in a simulated game Friday, said before Saturday's game that he felt "100 percent."
He arrived to the ballpark sporting a new look: green hair. No, he wasn't trying to match the colors on the Memorial Day jerseys that major-leaguers are wearing this weekend.
"I tried to make it white, but that stuff burns," Gomez said. "I don't know if I'm going to finish. I might come tomorrow in red or blue. I don't know."
He said he is trying to look like his father:
"He's completely white-haired."
The Rays have gone four games without hitting a home run, their longest drought of the season. Only two teams have had longer droughts — the Reds, who went six games without a homer, and the Brewers, who went five games.
Heading into Saturday's game, the Rays had hit 46 home runs, the fifth fewest in baseball. Willy Adames, who was optioned back to Triple-A Durham on Thursday, was the last player to hit one (May 22).
Teams who haven't hit a home run in a game have lost twice as often as they have won. The Rays are 6-15.
Who is Wilmer Font?
While the trade of Colome and OF Denard Span was the attention-grabber, the Rays made a smaller deal, sending minor-league RHP Peter Bayer to the Athletics for RHP Wilmer Font. Font has been designated for assignment twice this season, first by the Dodgers and more recently by the A's. His stat line has been unsightly — 24 earned runs allowed, including 10 home runs, in 17 innings. So what do the Rays see in him?
"He's a guy that we've liked, we've talked about for a while," Cash said. "I know his track record this season has maybe not been his best, but I think that's part of what makes this group, this Rays organization, special is they can see some underlying things that you can kind of pull out of a pitcher."
Font, who just turned 28, spent all of last season in Triple A for the Dodgers, where he actually did not give up a home run every other inning. In 25 starts, he posted a 3.42 ERA and struck out 11.9 batters per nine innings and walked 2.3.
Headed to the Hall
The Rays are sending their May 19 lineup card, which features Romo as their starter, to Cooperstown, N.Y., per the National Baseball Hall of Fame's request. They're also sending LHP Jonny Venters' cap from his April 25 appearance, his first in a major-league game in nearly six years. Venters has battled a series of elbow injuries, including three Tommy John surgeries.
Among the Rays' artifacts on display at the Hall: the helmet 3B Evan Longoria wore on Aug. 1, 2017, the day he hit for the cycle; the bat Longoria used on Sept. 28, 2011, when he hit the home run in Game 162 that clinched a playoff berth; RHP Matt Garza's cap and ball from his 2010 no-hitter; OF Carl Crawford's spikes from the 2009 game in which he stole a record six bases; and the jersey, cap, spikes and batting gloves 3B Wade Boggs wore when he recorded his 3,000th hit in 1999.
Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.