Customs postpones Jimenez's pro debut
By KEVIN KELLY
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Had he arrived 20 minutes earlier at the airport in Ottawa on Saturday Jason Jimenez might have made his major-league debut against the A's.
It still could happen today.
The Rays selected Jimenez from Triple-A Durham after the game and designated right-handed reliever Lee Gardner for assignment.
"This gives us three lefties in the bullpen," manager Hal McRae said. "He's left-handed and that will give us a little better balance."
Jimenez, 26, was 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 20 appearances for Durham when he got news of his promotion at 6 a.m. His flight from Ottawa to Philadelphia was scheduled to leave at 11:30 a.m.
"I got to the gate at 11:20 and since it was an international flight the lady couldn't get us through customs," Jimenez said. "I stayed there and had to catch the next flight at 3 p.m. I went to Philadelphia. We had a holding pattern there, flew around that place for a while and finally got to land. I switched planes and then we sat on the runway for another 30 minutes because there was too much traffic. We finally got the okay to take off and now I'm finally in."
A 28th-round pick in the 1997 draft, Jimenez arrived at Tropicana Field around 9:20 p.m. and met with McRae. It was the first time he had seen the Rays clubhouse.
"I always told myself I wanted to see it as a player, not as a minor-league guy," he said. "Hal just asked me if I was ready to pitch. I'm ready."
KEEP ON TRYING: Recalled from Durham on May 17, Gardner made his major-league debut on May 24 against the A's and pitched two scoreless innings.
The right-hander, who was leading the International League with 12 saves when recalled, pitched three more times. He allowed one run each in his past two appearances -- Thursday and Friday against Oakland.
The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or ask waivers on Gardner, who had a 4.91 ERA in 32/3 innings.
"I'll keep chugging away, doing the same stuff that got me here in the first place," he said. "That's all I can do."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: After watching video of the play, McRae said Greg Vaughn's controversial triple Friday should've been a home run.
Umpires ruled the ball hit the B-ring catwalk, but McRae said video clearly showed the ball hitting the C-ring catwalk, which is an automatic homer.
"It took technology to figure it out," he said. "(The ball) went over the (B) ring and hit the home run ring. It went into the seats and then back onto the field."
ALL SMILES: Nick Bierbrodt didn't have much to say about his extended spring training performance on Friday in Tampa.
The left-hander, sidelined since have extreme control problems during spring training, allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings.
"I'm doing all right," Bierbrodt said. "But you've got to go talk to Chuck (LaMar, Rays general manager). Orders are orders."
FASHION STATEMENT: The Rays are wearing new stirrups with the team's logo stitched on the outside.
But it's not just for looks.
McRae instituted a rule during spring training that players must show four inches of stirrup. Several players had pulled their pant legs lower and lower as the season progressed.
"I saw it. But we were losing," McRae said. "So how can you bring up the pants when you're getting your brains beat out every night? Now you've got to show (the logo) and we've got 'em back up again."
MINOR MATTERS: Veteran catcher Sal Fasano, who was hitting .257 with six homers and nine RBIs at Durham, was released. Alex Marconi was activated and Yamid Haad was promoted from Double-A Orlando to take Fasano's place. ... Pitcher Matt White, on the disabled list at Durham, will be reinstated today and start for Class A Charleston.
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