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Shoulder discomfort forces Parque to DL

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2003


ST. PETERSBURG -- Jim Parque's poor performance in his first two starts apparently was not without cause -- tendinitis in his left shoulder.

The diagnosis triggered a series of moves:

Parque, who lasted just 1-2/3 innings Tuesday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list, with the hope that a short respite now, especially with the team headed on a cold-weather trip, will allow him to be healthy for the remainder of the season.

Jorge Sosa, who was the long man in the bullpen, moved into the rotation and starts Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

And veteran reliever Al Levine, who pitched last season with World Series champion Anaheim and was cut in spring training by St. Louis, was added to the bullpen.

Manager Lou Piniella said he noticed before Tuesday's game that Parque did not seem to be throwing properly. Parque said he knew shortly after leaving the game that something wasn't right.

"The first two starts, the way I was throwing, that obviously isn't how I am," Parque said. "I'd rather take some time and get it out of there now. ... There's too much at stake, so it's better to be smart than stupid."

Parque seemed to complete a successful comeback from May 2001 shoulder surgery with a strong spring training, but he didn't throw nearly as well or as hard in two regular-season starts, with only one pitch above 83 mph on Tuesday. In 62/3 innings this season, he allowed 13 runs on 12 hits and nine walks.

"You can't throw strikes because you don't want to let it go," Parque said.

He hopes to miss only two starts and rejoin the rotation at the end of the month. "I don't see this as a huge deal," he said.

WELCOME MAT: Levine (Le-VINE), who signed with the Rays on April 2, was supposed to face hitters for the first time at the minor-league complex Wednesday.

Instead, he came on in the fifth at Tropicana Field, did not allow a hit over 2-2/3 innings and ended up earning the victory.

"I'd rather be here," he said.

Levine, a 34-year-old who also pitched for the White Sox and Rangers, said several teams were interested but he chose the Rays because of the opportunity and the chance to play for Piniella.

"I was just looking for a good situation," he said.

SOSA TIME: Sosa went 2-7 with a 5.81 ERA in 14 starts last season, his first above the Class A level. He was impressive in a 4-1/3-inning outing Tuesday.

VAUGHN JOINS ROCKIES: Greg Vaughn, released last month by the Rays, finally found a job, signing a minor-league contract with the Rockies.

Vaughn will join Triple-A Colorado Springs as an outfielder and make $2,500 a month, with a June 15 out clause if he is not in the majors. Because he signed a minor-league deal, the Rays don't get any relief for the $9.25-million they owe him.

"Eric Goldschmidt (Vaughn's agent) was looking for a way to get Greg some at-bats," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd told Colorado reporters. "He's a quality guy who (farm director Bill Geivett) feels can help some of our young players develop. He is an insurance policy if something comes up."

GETTING A FEEL: Aubrey Huff's first outfield experience was a good one -- two fly ball outs, no errors. "I felt pretty comfortable out there -- so far," Huff said. Piniella was pleased: "He looked good out there, he really did."

MISCELLANY: Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford (hitting a combined .348) extended their hitting streaks to nine games, the longest for a Ray at the start of a season. Baldelli is one shy of the team record at the start of a career. ... Two more infield hits give the Rays a major-league high 20. ... Since opening day, Rays starters have an 11.46 ERA. ... Javier Valentin started behind the plate Wednesday, with Toby Hall due back for today's 12:15 matinee. ... After today, the Rays plays 28 of their next 40 games on the road. ... Baltimore's Tony Batista had his 10th career two-homer game.

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