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McClung standing out

By MARC TOPKIN, JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 4, 2003


ST. PETERSBURG -- At 6 feet 6 and 235 pounds, Seth McClung is one of the biggest pitchers in Devil Rays camp. He also is making one of the biggest impressions.

McClung, 22, a hard-throwing right-hander, had a second straight solid outing Monday, working a quick ninth in an 8-6 loss to the Indians.

"He's making a statement," pitching coach Chris Bosio said. "He's really working his (butt) off and taking it out there on the mound. He's really making a good showing for himself.

"Somebody in this room, the other pitchers, are going to have to step up like he's stepping up. He's putting himself in a very good position right now. You guys see it. I don't see a lot of (hitters) digging in on him. He's got command of his pitches and he's got a big arm. And what's scary is I think he's starting to catch on to concepts right now."

McClung, who split last season between Class-A Bakersfield and Double-A Orlando, said he is just trying to improve in each outing.

"I want to show these guys I can pitch at this level, and I'll do whatever it takes to get there," he said.

RAYS LOSE -- AGAIN: By giving 70-some players a chance to show what they can do in the early exhibitions, the Rays aren't necessarily giving themselves the best chance to win. They are 0-3, the only team in either league without a win.

Manager Lou Piniella said -- actually, promised -- the situation will change soon, with a significant roster reduction coming.

"Let me tell you this, we'll have this camp down in size this week," he said. "That I can tell you. We're playing with 70 people, 74 people, 73 people, whatever the number is, and I'm giving everyone an opportunity to play, every pitcher, every player. When we cut it down, this thing will tighten up."

GAME NOTES: Victor Zambrano was pleased with his three-inning start, mixing sliders with fastballs. ... Jared Sandberg, whom Piniella said he'd like to win the third-base job, had a bases-loaded double. ... Rookie centerfielder Rocco Baldelli, hitless for the spring, made several nice catches, drawing Piniella's praise. ... The Rays led 4-3 in the seventh, but reliever Mike James gave up five runs, including a grand slam to Jody Gerut. ... Charts from Sunday show Rays pitchers got 20 of the 25 outs on three pitches or less, and had first-pitch strikes to 26 of 34 hitters.

MEDICAL REPORT: Catcher Toby Hall left Monday's game after a foul ball hit his mask, causing a cut on the bridge of his nose. "I've been hit a lot, but that was a pretty good one," he said.

Dewon Brazelton, who tweaked his right knee in a sliding drill last week, had no problems while pitching a two-inning simulated game at theminor-league complex. If he makes it through a fielding workout today and is cleared by the medical staff, he will make his spring debut Friday.

Reliever Lance Carter has been held out as a precaution because of tightness in his left side oblique, the Rays hoping it won't lead to a prolonged absence. ... Veteran Mel Rojas expects to play catch today after missing a few days with tightness in his shoulder.

B-ROLL: Marlon Anderson's centerfield debut in the morning B game went relatively well. "Nothing crazy happened," Anderson said. "A pretty uneventful day."

Piniella's quest for versatility led the Rays to try the second baseman in centerfield, and Anderson said his biggest adjustments had to do with positioning and running down balls in the gap.

There was one other noticeable difference, he said. "There's a lot of dead time out there in centerfield," he said. "It's boring, very boring. But it was fun, something different."

The Rays lost to the Reds 13-4, with Jeremi Gonzalez giving up five runs (on three homers) and Leslie Brea four. Starter Doug Waechter had another good outing with two scoreless innings, and Chris Truby and Ryan Thompson homered.

Thursday's B game with Cleveland was moved to 10 a.m. Progress Energy Park will not be open.

PITCHING IN: Lefty Joe Kennedy, who makes his spring debut today, has been working on a new pitch that is something between a slider and a curve. Kennedy, expected to be the staff ace, is eager to get on the mound. "I want to see how my arm feels, see how my body feels, see how my mind feels," he said.


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