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Rays pitcher Alex Colome suspended 50 games for PED use

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The Rays right-hander will miss the first 50 games of the season, hurting Tampa's starting rotation depth in the process.

Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher Alex Colome was suspended for 50 games on Monday afternoon after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

Colome was among a number of starters vying for the club's fifth spot in the rotation this spring, a competition that right-hander Jake Odorizzi ultimately won. Now Colome will miss the first 50 games of the season ahead after testing positive for Boldenone, according to Marc Topkins of the Tampa Bay Times, an anabolic steroid generally used to treat horses.

The 25-year-old Colome made his big league debut in 2013, starting three games and compiling a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched for the Rays. Colome is among the organization's top prospects, ranking fifth in the team's system heading into 2014 and sixth last season, according to Baseball America.

Last year, Colome started 14 games for the Durham Bulls, Tampa's Triple-A affiliate, posting a 3.07 ERA and nearly 2.5 more strikeouts than walks over 70.1 innings. The Dominican native was set to begin the season in the Durham rotation with fellow starters Enny Romero, Nathan Karns, Matt Andriese, and Mike Montgomery.

Most importantly for the Rays, Colome was slated to be one of the first players called upon if any of the team's current starters pitched poorly or suffered an injury. With Jeremy Hellickson currently sidelined after undergoing elbow surgery, Tampa Bay's rotation depth has suddenly grown thin. Either Romero, who debuted with the Rays in 2013, or Nathan Karns would likely be the next starter called upon if the club does need someone to make a spot start.

Monday's 50-game suspension throws Colome's 2014 role into doubt, of course, and at the very least, the right-hander won't be appearing in any games for the first two months of the season.