Closer Alex Colome reported to Rays camp on Tuesday and acknowledged that given all the trade rumors he was somewhat surprised to be back.
"I didn't expect to be here, but I'm here now and I'm hopeful to do well," Colome said through team interpreter Manny Navarro.
Colome is sporting something of a new look, with long braids and a beard. But he said he won't spend much time wondering if he also will be wearing a new jersey — either later this spring or sometime during the season.
"I don't know, but my job right now is just to prepare myself to play wherever I play," he said. "My job is to make sure I'm there health wise and stay strong and get that opportunity to pitch and not worry about the trade talks or anything else outside of the game. It's something you can't control."
The Cardinals and Rockies were among teams expressing heavy interest in Colome, who led the majors in saves last season. He fueled that a bit during the December winter meetings when he started following the Cardinals official account and three other team-related sites.
"A (Cardinals) fan contacted me and I responded to do something funny, joking around," he said Tuesday.
RHP Sergio Romo reported to camp after finalizing his one-year, $2.5-million deal and said he appreciated the Rays giving him the chance to come back in addition to the opportunity last year after he struggled with the Dodgers. "I'm in a place where I'm wanted," Romo said. "They have a vision here about what they were trying to accomplish. The fact that they see me as a part of that is pretty cool, regardless of the age (34)."
Minor-league C Nick Ciuffo spoke about the circumstances that led to and fallout from the second failed drug test that resulted in his 50-game suspension. "I want to start this off by saying there's obviously no excuse for what I did," Ciuffo said. "But what's done is done, I can't change the past and I'm looking toward the future from here on out. I really truly think that when I look back at this, this is going to be something that changes my life, and my career, in a good way. I'm going to handle issues like I've never handled them before."