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Release rattles Reichert

By MARC TOPKIN, ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 13, 2003


ST. PETERSBURG -- The Devil Rays decision to release Dan Reichert on Wednesday was unexpected -- at least by the veteran pitcher.

"I was shocked, absolutely beside myself, thinking 'Is this really happening?"' Reichert said. "I signed the papers and off I go. I didn't fit into the plans. Whatever the plans may be, Dan Reichert wasn't in them."

Reichert, claimed off waivers in September, made three scoreless spring appearances.

But Rays general manager Chuck LaMar and manager Lou Piniella felt he wasn't pitching well enough to make the staff so they decided to act quickly.

"We'd rather do it now to give him an opportunity to get on with somebody else if he can," LaMar said.

The move could also benefit the Rays financially. Reichert, the only arbitration-eligible player retained from last season, agreed to a $510,000 salary that would have been fifth highest on the team.

By releasing him Wednesday, after he cleared waivers, the Rays were obligated only for $85,000 termination pay, one-sixth of his salary. Starting today, released players with nonguaranteed contracts get one-fourth of their salary, which would have been another $42,500.

The Rays may use the total savings, as well as Reichert's roster spot, toward keeping nonroster pitchers Jim Parque and/or Steve Parris, who are signed for $400,000 each if they make the team. Or they could be planning for an acquisition.

REYES OKAY: Pirates pitcher Dennys Reyes appeared to be okay after being struck on the head by an Aubrey Huff line drive. Reyes was taken to Bayfront Medical Center for tests and was released later.

Reyes went down immediately as the ball rebounded nearly to the third-base stands, but he got up a few minutes later under his own power and rode off the field on the back of a cart. There was no bleeding, and the Pirates said he was "stable, conscious and coherent."

"That was scary," Piniella said. "That ball hit him flush in the head. You don't like to see those things."

GOOD WORKOUT: Dewon Brazelton's three innings in the 3-3 10-inning tie at Progress Energy Park weren't pretty, not with five hits and three walks, but Piniella and pitching coach Chris Bosio were pleased with how the 22-year-old handled the situations.

"He showed a lot of grit out there," Bosio said.

Brazelton remains in the competition for a spot in the rotation, though Piniella said he "needs to get a little sharper" with more work in future outings.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays rallied twice to tie, scoring two runs in the third and another in the fifth. ... Damian Rolls had two hits and two RBIs. ... The Rays had a chance to win in the 10th with the bases loaded and one out, but Greg Vaughn and Travis Lee were struck out by Mark Corey. ... Reliever Jesus Colome had another impressive outing.

VICTOR VISION: Right-hander Victor Zambrano has been a bright spot since the start of spring training, having given up one run on three hits in seven innings in his first three appearances.

He was not that dominant Wednesday during a 11-2 split-squad loss to the Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. But he wasn't bad either.

Zambrano gave up three earned runs on four hits and threw two wild pitches through three. He rebounded, facing the minimum in the fourth with six strikeouts.

"Any time you throw those (many) innings, you've got to keep the game close," said Zambrano, who threw an extra inning in the bullpen after coming out. "That's basically what I am trying to do right now, and it doesn't matter what else happens in the game.

"In the situations where I got in trouble, I tried to command the ball close to the plate and use my changeup for a couple strikeouts."

ROUGH DEBUT: St. Petersburg native Doug Waechter made his first appearance of the spring for the Rays and gave up a home run to infielder Jose Fernandez.

MISCELLANY: Lee's young brother, Taber, is a Pirates minor-leaguer; Wednesday was the first time they had ever played against each other. ... Rookie reliever Seth McClung, who pitched five times in 10 days, will get a few extra days for sideline work before his next appearance. ... Pedro Martinez is scheduled to pitch for Boston against the Rays on Saturday. A limited number of reserved seats remain; berm tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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