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Rays place Alvarez on DL, shuffle roster

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 16, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays made seven roster moves and one other adjustment Monday before leaving for Detroit, where they open a three-game series tonight.

"It's a lot of moves in one day," general manager Chuck LaMar said. "But it's more coincidental than anything else."

The pitching staff was affected most.

Wilson Alvarez was placed on the 15-day disabled list after straining a muscle on the right side of his rib cage Sunday.

The 32-year-old left-hander sustained the injury while throwing a 2-and-2 pitch to Carlos Delgado in the sixth inning against Toronto. He was taken out having allowed two runs on two hits while striking out seven in 52/3 innings and was re-examined Monday morning.

The Rays are being cautious with Alvarez, who missed nearly two seasons after surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

"With Wilson, he's worked so hard and looked so good (Sunday) that we've got to ensure that he is healthy for the rest of the year," LaMar said. "We think he'll definitely be ready after 15 days."

Scheduled to make his third start tonight, Paul Wilson has stiffness in his right shoulder and his start has been pushed back at least a day.

Wilson, who has the best ERA in the AL (2.20) since the All-Star break last season, has allowed two earned runs in 15 innings this season.

"We're not trying to throw up the red flag by missing a start or pushing him back," LaMar said. "He just has a little soreness in the front of his shoulder."

Pitching in his place will be Delvin James.

The right-hander, a 14th-round draft pick in 1996, was recalled from Triple-A Durham and will make his major-league debut after six-plus seasons in the Rays farm system. He was 1-0 with a 1.53 ERA this spring.

"He's worked extremely hard and it's just great that he's getting his first major-league start," LaMar said.

Reliever Bobby Seay (left shoulder tendinitis) was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, and Tom Martin's contract was purchased from Durham. Martin, a left-handed reliever, will join the team today.

The Rays needed a relief pitcher because they sent Travis Phelps, who had a 9.00 ERA in three innings, to Durham with infielder Jason Smith. Smith was optioned because third baseman Russ Johnson was activated from the DL.

Johnson, who missed 10 games with a strained tendon in his right foot, is likely to start at third today. He hit .313 with one homer and five RBIs in an eight-game rehab assignment.

MULTIPURPOSE: With Johnson back, Bobby Smith assumes the role as utilityman.

Manager Hal McRae will use Smith primarily against left-handed pitchers while playing him some at third base, first base and in the outfield.

Smith is hitting .175 with two doubles, five RBIs and a team-high 17 strikeouts. He was 6-for-21 in the past five games.

"I think he's shown that he's serviceable," McRae said. "That's important for the club to have players that are serviceable where you can use them and you know how you're going to use them."

A NICE RIDE: Jason Smith was reassigned a day after getting his first big-league hit in his second career start.

Smith, who had one career major-league at-bat before this season, started two games and hit .222 with a stolen base.

"It's been a great learning experience," he said. "Flash (catcher John Flaherty) has been talking to me a lot about different situations, approaches to certain situations. So I can take that with me and learn from it."


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