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Piniella wants losing to sting

By TOM JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 16, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella started holding individual meetings with players Saturday and the message was direct: Let's see some passion.

As the Rays have piled one loss on top of another this spring, only Piniella and his staff have displayed their emotions.

"I haven't seen anybody get upset, and we lose every day," Piniella said before Saturday's 3-2 victory against the Boston Red Sox. "It can't be that way. I know it's only spring training, but where do you start? You have to start somewhere. Spring training is as good of a place as any.

"I haven't seen any, 'Let's get it going,' or 'Let's win a ballgame,' or whatever. That's what you like to see after a ballgame."

Twice this spring, Piniella has lost his cool following losses. After Friday's 3-2 loss to the Twins, he grumbled a few words to the media, then stormed off barking several four-letter words.

Piniella said he realizes he has an inexperienced team that will struggle. He isn't necessarily waiting for an R-rated movie to break out after every loss, but he is looking for a little emotion.

"I haven't seen any indication of that in spring training," Piniella said. "That's what is disappointing to me. And if I'm disappointed, then I want my players to be disappointed, too."

Piniella has no plans to shield his team from his frustration.

"If I accept it, it's easier for them to accept it," Piniella said. "I'm not going to accept it."

DRUG TEST: The biggest challenge for the Rays early Saturday was, well, going to the bathroom.

Under the collective-bargaining agreement, all players on the 40-man roster are given two announced tests for illegal steroids for survey use. Saturday was one of the Rays' days.

Last week, 16 members of the Chicago White Sox considered refusing to participate as a protest to make steroid testing mandatory. The players agreed to be tested after consulting with a union official.

Rays player representative Joe Kennedy said there were no issues Saturday, and all players participated.

PEDRO PITCHES: The Rays got a sneak preview of their opening-day opposing pitcher and fared well. Pedro Martinez, who is scheduled to start for the Red Sox against the Rays on March 31, pitched three innings and gave up three runs, though all were unearned.

Martinez, who took the loss, was burned by the bizarre play of the spring when the Rays' Toby Hall was awarded two bases after his grounder disappeared in the shirt of Red Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand, who was charged with an error.

"I never seen anything like that," Martinez said. "That was weird. But that's part of the game. You never know what's going to happen. ... I asked him (later), 'You want to cuddle with the ball?' "

Piniella said, "Never seen (that). Of course, I've seen some things this spring I've never seen before either."

GAME DETAILS: Travis Lee delivered the big blow against Martinez with a two-out, two-run double after the error by Hillenbrand. ... Winning pitcher Steve Parris, trying to earn as spot as the Rays' fifth starter, pitched well: three innings, three hits, no runs, two strikeouts and two walks, though one was an unintentional-intentional walk. He also squirmed out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. "Lou always says it's not how you get into trouble, it's how you get out of it," Parris said, joking. "I figured I would get into some trouble and then get out of it." ... Brent Abernathy helped his cause with a run-scoring single off Martinez and a nice defensive play. ... Two of the leading left-handed candidates for bullpen spots, Bobby Seay and Cedrick Bowers, each pitched a scoreless inning. ... Jesus Colome pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

MISCELLANY: Piniella said the team likely will make another round of cuts, perhaps 10 or so players, today. ... Leftfielder Carl Crawford sat out with left biceps soreness. ... Marlon Anderson, who has been trying to earn a spot at second base, started in center. ... Former Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe is one of the middle reliever candidates for the Red Sox, but Boston manager Grady Little said the competition is intense.

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