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Creek bids farewell with sights on future

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 21, 2002

TORONTO -- The Rays sent Doug Creek on his way Saturday, designating the veteran reliever for assignment, and he sounded happy to be going.

"I had fun and I tried to help the team, but it's been a bad situation all year," Creek said. "I haven't been able to pitch with any regularity and I haven't really had a role. They're trying to go younger and cheaper, I don't know. I think it's probably going to be a better situation for all of us. Maybe a change of scenery for me will get things going and get them some new faces in here."

Creek was 2-1 with a 6.27 ERA in 29 games, allowing eight home runs and a whopping 63 baserunners in 37 1/3 innings. He said the problem resulted from a lack of regular work.

"When you complain and you're not pitching well it makes you sound like a sissy," Creek said. "I try to conduct myself as a professional all the time. I relayed my feelings to both (general manager) Chuck (LaMar) and (manager) Hal (McRae) to no avail."

But LaMar said the Rays expected more out of Creek, a 33-year-old who spent parts of seven seasons in the majors and was making $685,000.

"Doug had gone stale with us," LaMar said. "At times he pitched well but we needed him to step up and pitch in tight games and be able to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings and he didn't step up."

Creek also said the Rays were in a "vicious cycle" of bringing in younger players and letting them go when they got too expensive. "Anything I have bad to say I'll just reserve it," Creek said. "I'll pack my bag and say thank you. I feel pretty confident I'll get picked up by someone else ... a team going in the right direction where I can be placed in a role."

The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or pass Creek through waivers. If he is claimed, a team assumes the approximate $241,5000 of remaining salary. If the Rays trade him, with the Dodgers and Giants among those supposedly interested, they might get back some of the money. Creek said he will not accept an assignment to Triple-A Durham.

OTHER MOVES: Victor Zambrano, sent to Durham with a 3-4 record and 5.93 ERA on June 25, was recalled and given a chance to win back this setup job in the bullpen. Zambrano was 0-1 with one save and a 1.93 ERA in 10 appearances for the Bulls.

Andy Sheets, who had a career-high 69 RBIs at Durham was added to the roster as a utility infielder. Sheets started 47 games for the Rays at shortstop last season before being replaced by Chris Gomez.

Outfielder Dave McCarty, hitting .136 in 25 games, was designated for assignment. He said he would consider going back to Durham if he clears waivers, which is likely.

Shortstop Jason Smith, who made three errors in Friday's game and was hitting .200, was optioned to Durham so he can play every day and improve his footwork.

PATIENCE PAYS: Sheets showed enough in his first game, doubling and drawing three walks, that he'll bat leadoff today and play third. Randy Winn will get the day off, with Jason Conti playing center and Ben Grieve returning from three days off to play right.

D-LO NO GO: Luis De Los Santos' first major-league start was nothing like the 11 he made for Durham, where he was 6-1, 2.14. De Los Santos, a 24-year-old right-hander wasn't composed or in control, hitting three and constantly leaving the ball up in his four-plus innings.

"I wasn't nervous and I felt all right, it was just a bad day," De Los Santos said. "No excuses. Just a bad day."

De Los Santos will get another chance Thursday, in a matchup with Boston ace Pedro Martinez. "You've got to give him his first one for nervousness," McRae said. "Even if he doesn't pitch well next time, you've got to give him a chance. We're not going anywhere. You can't pull the plug."

MISCELLANY: The eight errors in consecutive games was a franchise high. ... The Rays' 29 wins are the fewest for an American League team through 95 games since the 1996 Tigers. ... The Jays have won eight of nine.

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Today's lineup

  • Ready or not, here's Crawford
  • Creek bids farewell with sights on future
  • Rays road skid is at 13
  • Rays tales
  • A mistake from start, Alvarez's time limited

  • Bucs
  • Great expectations, this time from within
  • Plenty to learn as camp starts
  • Southern Fryed

  • Lightning
  • Feaster says team staying on course

  • Other sports

    British Open
  • Slammed
  • Showing up from middle of nowhere

  • Motorsports
  • NASCAR joins exhaustive coverage trend

  • NFL
  • Heat will be an issue for teams to monitor

  • Storm
  • Storm gets its victory in final game of season

  • Baseball
  • Dodgers closer key to pennant

  • Et cetera
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  • Preps
  • Dixie caps its busy summer
  • Two Citrus Park teams lead way
  • Palm Harbor wins two in major baseball play

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  • Math not Rays' best subject
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