St. Petersburg Times
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Schedule
The Trop
The Trop
Getting to the Trop
Best routes
Parking
Interactive
Rays forum
The art of pitching
Links
Devil Rays' official home site
Talk baseball in our Devil Rays forum



printer version

Arms shortage spring's top obstacle

Rays have more pitchers than anyone in camp in search for 12 useful ones.

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 14, 2003


photo
[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Piniella: "Some of our young pitchers are going to have to step up."
ST. PETERSBURG -- They'll show up today for the first day of work under new manager Lou Piniella amid the standard questions. Who's new? Who's that? Who looks better? Who looks fat?

And then there's this:

Who's going to pitch?

The Devil Rays open spring training this morning with a major league-high 38 pitchers invited to camp, and even that probably won't be enough to yield a 12-man staff by the end of the six-week warmup.

Because they didn't want to spend the money to bring back the key members of last year's staff, and because they didn't have the money to bring in quality replacements, the Rays have left themselves woefully short of proven arms.

"Our biggest job here in spring training," Piniella said Thursday, "is going to have to be putting a pitching staff together."

Letting starters Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Wilson and Ryan Rupe, as well as Wilson Alvarez, go wasn't exactly like tearing up the Braves rotation. But they took 17 wins, 88 starts and, most important, 5542/3 innings with them, almost 60 percent of those pitched by Tampa Bay starters.

Similarly, nobody but antacid sales reps may miss closer Esteban Yan, but the Rays don't have a pitcher on their 40-man roster with more than five career saves or anyone in camp who had more than two in the majors last season.

Overall, the Rays are missing nearly half their innings (6742/3 of 1,4401/3) and decisions (26 of 55 wins; 54 of 106 losses) from last season.

"Where we probably lost the most is the innings pitched that we got from the veteran pitchers we had last year," Piniella said. "Some of our young pitchers are going to have to step up.

"We're going to be much better off -- I'm talking about from a pitching standpoint and a total team standpoint -- giving all of our young kids an ample opportunity to pitch. We'll know exactly what we have as far as major-league pitchers are concerned, and then we can add the pieces over the winter next year to really start putting this thing in progress."

Throughout the spring, Rays officials will go back and forth on the benefits, as well as the cost, of giving the young pitchers an opportunity versus hanging on to veterans who might help more now.

"I'm sure Lou and I will have more than one discussion about, we all want to go young and we all want to win baseball games, too," general manager Chuck LaMar said. "I think we'll have a few of those discussions before the end of spring."

Depending on how they're throwing, and in many cases how they're feeling, several veterans brought in on new market minor-league deals could make strong bids for jobs.

Guys such as Steve Parris, who won 23 games for the Reds in 1999-2000 before a shoulder injury; Jim Parque, who won 13 games for the 2000 White Sox but since has had shoulder surgery; John Frascatore, who was an effective middle reliever for years but couldn't get a job last season; Bob Wells, a nine-year veteran who pitched in 48 games for the Twins last season despite midseason elbow surgery; and Carlos Reyes, another veteran middle man who spent last season as a minor-league coach.

But the key to the spring is going to be the progress of the prospects.

Dewon Brazelton, the 22-year-old top pick from 2001, is expected to win a spot in the rotation. And with two games of big-league experience, plus one at Triple A, he's one of the most proven possibilities.

Seth McClung, a 22-year-old hard-throwing right-hander with a few months of Double-A experience, and Jon Switzer, a 23-year-old left-hander who spent his first full season at Class A, will get the chance to make impressions. Nick Bierbrodt, recovering from gunshot wounds, will too. As will young Mexican League products Gerardo Garcia and Edgar Huerta.

About the only thing that is set right now is that Joe Kennedy, the wily veteran who is all of 23 with 50 starts in the big leagues, will be at the front end of the rotation.

Otherwise ...

"I can't even go there," new pitching coach Chris Bosio said. "I honestly don't know. Lou Piniella does not know. We do not know as a staff right now. All we can do is ask people for their opinions, let the chips fall where they may, wish everybody luck and just tell them to bust their a--.

"Let's just say the guys that we have out there will be very competitive."


Back to the Rays
Today's lineup

Rays
  • Arms shortage spring's top obstacle
  • Draw must be wins, not Lou
  • Gary Shelton: Lou has hope. Well, that's one

  • Bucs
  • Keyshawn Johnson denies Serena rumor

  • Lightning
  • Three-game suspension starts tonight for Roy

  • Other sports

    Golf
  • Nicklaus on Augusta fence
  • A sloppy return for Woods

  • Motorsports
  • Junior's driving scared
  • CART sues Road America track over payments
  • Busch and jackman go flying on pit stop

  • In brief
  • NBC will return boxing to network television

  • Internet
  • Daytona 500's popularity thrives on NASCAR.com

  • Baseball
  • Jeter hurt by shot at integrity

  • College football
  • Another charge for McPherson

  • NHL
  • Trailing by 3, Flyers defeat Blues in OT

  • College basketball
  • Deacons put end to Duke's mastery
  • Gender barrier falls in Tennessee State loss
  • Florida battles back but can't conquer record skid
  • Salukis watch

  • Sailing
  • Rivalry spices up Cup final

  • TV/Radio
  • Mr. Webster has nothing on DW

  • NBA
  • Streaking Pistons top Magic

  • Preps
  • Albury accepts UT offer
  • Zettel turns offensive in leading Brandon
  • Panthers stay unbeaten
  • Bulls avoid trap, coast to 4-1 win
  • Durant gets physical to get by Sickles
  • Gaither gets by Tornadoes
  • 'Canes, Pirates have seasons end
  • Springstead slips by Jenkins on Emmerman goal
  • Rams win wild one on late PK
  • Hudson edges Lecanto
  • Wildcats dump Crystal River
  • Wildcats pull off upset against Leto
  • Chargers chip in for playoff trip
  • Land O'Lakes surprises Tarpon Springs 41-40
  • Big 2nd quarter puts Bears in final
  • Spartans come alive with second-half run
  • Dragons pose no problem
  • PHU gets past St. Petersburg

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report: Patience required in cold
  • TV schedule
  • 2003 Florida calendar

  • Winston Cup
  • Winning, and winning fans over
  • International Race of Champions
  • Rolex Sports Car Series
  • Track Directory

  • Craftsman Trucks
  • Rapid rise to big tracks

  • Winston Cup
  • Pride of Ownership

  • Winston Cup
  • Fast Facts

  • Winston Cup
  • Driver Capsules

  • Busch Grand National
  • Making his biggest jump
  • A racing dictionary
  • American Le Mans series
  • Trans-am series
  • Area tracks

  • NHRA
  • Brand new Bernstein

  • Formula One
  • Diminished dominance?

  • Indy Racing League
  • Heading over, then out

  • CART
  • Spirit is lone U.S. hope

  • CART
  • St. Petersburg Grand Prix

  • TV / Radio
  • Fox on the fly with new camera for pits
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
     


     Devil Rays Forums
    From The Wire
  • Players, teams start rush to settle in arbitration
  • AP source: Yankees sign free agent RHP Kuroda
  • AP source: Pineda, Montero in Yanks-Mariners swap
  • Resop, Pirates agree to a one-year deal
  • Zambrano says he's happy with trade to Marlins
  • Report: UK police officer loses Olympics documents
  • Jayhawks send Baylor to first loss of season
  • No. 1 Syracuse at 20-0 after 71-63 win over Pitt
  • Fisher's late 3 pushes Lakers past Mavericks 73-70
  • Westbrook's 3s lead Thunder past Celtics 97-88
  • Djokovic, Williams into Australian Open 2nd round
  • Tebow has earned starting status in 2012
  • Filly Havre de Grace wins Horse of the Year
  • Crosby to meet with specialist as symptoms linger
  • AP Top 25: Syracuse stays on top for 6th week