Cash confident in 'in-house' closer candidates

Geltz, Cedeno, Colome among names being considered for role

March 19th, 2016

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Who will close for the Rays is now the biggest question to be answered as Spring Training winds down.

On Thursday, Rays closer Brad Boxberger underwent surgery in Philadelphia to repair the adductor brevis muscle in the groin area. Early estimates are that he will miss eight weeks.

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"It's unfortunate," said Steve Geltz, one of the relievers who will be looked upon to pitch in late innings. "We're all in his corner. We're all pulling for him, and we're hoping for the best."

Last season, Boxberger was named to his first All-Star Game, and he led the American League with 41 saves.

Sans Boxberger, the Rays will likely go with a "bullpen by committee" according to manager Kevin Cash, which is hardly a new climate, as that's what the Rays had for parts of 2015 before Boxberger evolved into the closer.

"Coming into Spring Training, we had a lot of confidence, obviously in Box, [Xavier] Cedeno, Geltzy and [Alex] Colome," Cash said. "And then there were some unknowns. ... All of those guys pitched in very high-leveraged roles last year. So we're not too concerned in that regard. The concerning thing is, we're a man short that pitched in a lot of high-leveraged roles last year.

"But we're confident the guys we brought in and the candidates we have in-house, that we'll definitely piece this together and have some success."

Colome looks like the most likely candidate to be the everyday closer if the Rays opt to go that route. Of course, the right-hander did not have a save last season while being used in a setup role.

"I know I have my confidence," Colome said. "If Cash or [pitching coach Jim] Hickey think I can do it, and they give me the ball, I feel like I can do the job. I pitch anywhere -- seventh, eighth, ninth, anywhere they give me the ball. If they give me the ball, I do my job."

Cedeno could also be a closing option, even though Cash prefers using the lefty against lefties.

"He's just so valuable to come in and get that one big out, right when the game is on the line," Cash said. "But yes, we have all the confidence in the world in him going out there against lefties and righties. Pitch for an inning, pitch in the ninth, pitch in the seventh."

Enny Romero, Andrew Bellatti, and Matt Andriese are all in-house candidates, while Danny Farquhar, David Carpenter, Dana Eveland, and Ryan Webb could all factor in as well.

"If any group of guys has the camaraderie and the drive and determination to fill that void, it's this group of Rays guys," Geltz said. "This group of pitchers. That's just a credit to us as competitors, as guys who are always trying to win and succeed at any level, and no matter what your role is. It's not easy being a closer.

"It's not taking away any credit from the severity and the weight that his role plays. But I really, honestly feel that we have the guys that, when the time comes to put up or shut up, we will put up. And I honestly believe that."