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Sturtze not upset about not finishing

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 26, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tanyon Sturtze wasn't in the Rays dugout when Esteban Yan undid in the ninth inning what Sturtze had done in the previous eight. He was working with weights in the clubhouse, but he was watching on television.

"When we threw out (Cristian Guzman) trying to steal second, I thought that was great," Sturtze said. Guzman ran for Matthew LeCroy, who led off with a walk. "I thought maybe we'd get out of it." Then Yan walked Bobby Kielty. "You know, walks ... " He didn't complete the sentence.

Sturtze said he felt he could have pitched the ninth, but "that's not my decision. When they tell me I'm done, I'm done. It doesn't matter how many pitches I threw or what the situation is."

Manager Hal McRae said Sturtze was at 114 pitches and was limited to 120. "He could be looking at 130 when he goes out. The correct decision is to remove him from the game. Once the starter gives you an outstanding outing, you can't let your starter lose the ballgame after he's given you a strong eight. ... If his pitch count had been in order, maybe he would've gone back out. But at (114) there was no way he was going back out."

Sturtze said he believes he's getting into a groove (two earned runs in his past two starts covering 152/3 innings, a 1.15 ERA).

"My arm's feeling good. I felt (Thursday) like I was back in the first couple of weeks in spring training. I had a lot of pitches working for me. Hopefully it just keeps going this way."

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: With virtually all his Rays teammates watching, outfielder Jason Conti, who played for Arizona until Tampa Bay got him in a July 25 trade, received his 2001 World Series ring from Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. in the Rays clubhouse before the game.

"It was nice of them to give me a ring in the first place," Conti said. "It has a purple Arizona "A' on it with diamonds behind it. It has my number and name on one side and on the other is D'backs 4 and Yankees 3 and Bank One Ballpark under that. It also has an inscription, Fastest Ever (expansion team to win a World Series) and engraved on the inside is Never Forget 9/11.

"I could very well have been there for all of that," he said. "I could have been pinch-running or something, playing a little defense in Yankee Stadium in the World Series. It's a great thing to think about, that I had a chance at least to be there. Some people go their whole career without ever getting a chance."

Conti admitted he is more proud of a Double-A championship ring when he was with Tucson "because we went through the playoffs and won that thing and I was there the whole year. I contributed every day. I accept (the Arizona ring) with open arms, but I didn't really earn it."

STILL HOT: Randy Winn extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an eighth-inning single, matching Russ Johnson's streak of a year ago, the only other streak of 10 or more in April. Winn is batting .431 (22-for-51) with five doubles, a triple, nine RBIs and eight multihit games in the streak. He is one short of his career-high streak in 1998. Steve Cox's streak ended at 10 games.

STILL NOT: The homestand wasn't at all kind to Toby Hall. The Rays catcher was 1-for-21 (.048) in six games, dropping his season average to .232.

"I should feel like I'm doing pretty good considering last year at this time with about 80 at-bats I was hitting .190," Hall said. "I'm a slow starter. Then I'll go hit .320, .330. I feel pretty good up there (at the plate). I don't put pressure on myself. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."

RAYS BITS: After singling in his first at-bat against Baltimore, Greg Vaughn was 0-for-18 the rest of the homestand. ... Bucs coach Jon Gruden will throw out the first pitch at the Rays game June 7 against the San Diego Padres. ... Novelist Stephen King attended, seated on the aisle in the front row behind the Twins dugout.


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