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Up next: Blue Jays

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 22, 2003

SCOUTING REPORT: Things couldn't have gone more wrong for the Blue Jays, who are off to one of the worst starts in franchise history at 7-13.

Their pitching has been disappointing, their offense inconsistent and, perhaps most annoying, their defense sloppy, worst in the league. A team that was supposed to be very good at doing the little things right hasn't done much at all right.

Carlos Delgado, hitting .333 with 19 RBIs, has been the only regular providing consistent offense, and the season-opening slump by rookie of the year Eric Hinske has opened some eyes. The rotation, which includes ex-Rays Tanyon Sturtze (who pitches Thursday) and Cory Lidle, has been so-so, while the bullpen, which includes ex-Ray Doug Creek, has been among the league's worst.

Wrapping up a season-high 11-game road trip, the Jays come to the Trop having lost six of eight and 10 of their past 12.

CONNECTIONS: Sturtze (Tampa Bay's 2001 MVP), Creek and Lidle all pitched for the Rays. ... Toronto manager Carlos Tosca grew up in the Tampa area, graduating from USF and starting his coaching career at King High. ... Third-base coach Brian Butterfield was an assistant at Eckerd College. ... Rays bench coach John McLaren worked nine years in the Toronto minor-league season and 1986-90 as a big-league coach. ... Rays hitting coach Lee Elia was Toronto's bench coach in 2000.

SEASON SERIES: The Jays won last season 11-8, though the Rays were 5-4 at the Trop. Overall, Toronto leads 43-32, but the Rays are 20-17 at the Trop.

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