ST. PETERSBURG -- Denard Span wasted no time making himself feel at home again at Tropicana Field as the former Ray ripped a third-inning home run for the Mariners in Thursday's 5-4 series-opening win.It was Span's second home run in two days for Seattle, which acquired him two weeks ago
ST. PETERSBURG -- Denard Span wasted no time making himself feel at home again at Tropicana Field as the former Ray ripped a third-inning home run for the Mariners in Thursday's 5-4 series-opening win.
It was Span's second home run in two days for Seattle, which acquired him two weeks ago from Tampa Bay along with reliever Alex Colome, and it stretched the club's lead to 4-1 after a three-run second inning to back starter Mike Leake.
Colome wound up closing the game out in the ninth, surrendering a three-run double after replacing Leake with one on and none out before finishing things off, while Span went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored two runs.
"It always feels good, whenever you can hit a home run," Span said.
For Colome and Span, one of the first things they checked upon learning of the May 25 trade was the schedule. And, yeah, it just so happened that their new team soon played their old squad seven games in a 10-day span.
After helping Seattle sweep a three-game series against Tampa Bay just last weekend at Safeco Field, the two ex-Rays checked into the visiting clubhouse on Thursday afternoon and acknowledged it indeed felt a little different.
After working as Tampa Bay's closer the past two seasons, Colome has shifted seamlessly into an eighth-inning setup role in the Mariners' bullpen. Span has been starting most games in left field, hitting .286 in his first eight games, including his first home run in Wednesday's 7-5 loss against the Astros.
"I faced them in Seattle and we now we face them again. It's crazy to play my old friends," said Colome, who was signed by the Rays in 2007 out of the Dominican Republic and played his first five Major League seasons with them from 2013 until getting dealt to the Mariners with Span on on May 25.
For Span, it's not quite as odd to head to the road clubhouse and third-base dugout at Tropicana Field. The 11-year Major League veteran only joined the Rays this season after being dealt from the Giants. He spent his first five seasons in the big leagues in the American League with the Twins, so while he's a Tampa native, being a visiting ballplayer isn't new.
Prior to this year's trade, Span appeared in 18 home games for the Rays with 73 plate appearances, which is less than the 21 games and 100 plate appearances accumulated as a visitor to Tropicana Field.
But yes, he was well aware of the quick return to his hometown after the trade was announced as he owns a house in nearby Odessa.
"That's the first thing I noticed," Span said. "I kind of wished it had been a little spread out and we'd come in July or August or something like that, because we just left here. But it gives me an opportunity to finish packing and get things sewed up before heading out there."
For Span, that is a definite upside. He's married to former U.S. Olympic hockey player Anne Schleper and they had their first child, young Denard, last winter. So his four-day stay in Tampa will be spent helping them prepare for their own move to Seattle on Sunday.
"It's been a whirlwind," Span said.
A welcome whirlwind for the Mariners, who have received a boost from the arrival of the two veterans. Span has helped bolster the outfield with Dee Gordon shifting to second base following Robinson Cano's suspension, while Colome arrived right as reliever Nick Vincent went on the disabled list and he's fit smoothly into that setup role.
"They've both been really good," manager Scott Servais said. "It's been a welcome addition. They've fit in great in our clubhouse. I like how they prepare and go about it. They are very professional. They've been around and have some experience. Neither one is over-the-top, wanting to be the center attraction. They both go about their business and are really good teammates."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.