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Brazelton fulfills vow of quick return

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2003


BALTIMORE -- Dewon Brazelton apparently was right.

When Brazelton was sent to the minors near the end of spring training, the right-hander, 22, said he'd be back before the end of April. Manager Lou Piniella said Monday that Brazelton will be called up to start Thursday's game against Toronto.

Piniella is in the midst of revamping a rotation that has a 1-8 record and 7.38 ERA. Brazelton apparently will assume the No. 3 spot and Jorge Sosa, impressive in a spot start Saturday, will take over the fourth slot from Nick Bierbrodt, who is moving to long relief. Seth McClung will stay in the bullpen for now but will be considered for a start when there is another opening. Jim Parque, who was the No. 3 starter before going on the disabled list, will begin at least a two-start rehabilitation assignment Thursday at Triple-A Durham.

"My main job here is to get the right rotation in place," Piniella said. "It might take us a while, but we will.

"That's my main job here with the pitching, to get the right mix of pitchers out there. And I'm not exactly sure who they are yet, I'll be honest with you. I wish I knew. I think I'd sleep a little better. I just don't know."

Brazelton, the team's top pick in the 2001 draft, was limited to five innings during the spring by injuries. He has made three starts for Durham, going 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA, and likely will be called up officially Wednesday.

Parque, who was roughed up in his first two games for the Rays, will start for the Bulls Thursday and April 29, then be reevaluated.

HANDY DANDY: Outfielder/DH Ben Grieve may not be going on the disabled list after all.

Grieve, who spent two nights in the hospital because of an infection that started in the webbing of his left thumb, said his hand felt so much better he could play in Monday's game.

A decision on his status will be made today after an exam and tests, possibly an MRI, by Tampa hand specialist Dr. John Rayhack.

Grieve had a similar problem last year, and a Baltimore doctor told the Rays that the cause may be a suture from a 1985 operation that never dissolved properly and that surgery to remove the suture may be the best option.

"Now that it's happened more than once I think they really want to see why it's doing that," Grieve said. "It ended up nagging me all of last year, and if it's going to keep nagging me I might as well see if I can get it taken care of."

If Rayhack agrees and the procedure is done, Grieve said he should be out only about two weeks. If Rayhack doesn't think surgery is necessary, Grieve could be back in the lineup in a few days.

ON GUARD: Operations/facilities vice president Rick Nafe said the Rays didn't have to make many changes to comply with MLB's order for increased security after the recent incident in Chicago when a fan ran onto the field and attacked an umpire.

"Pretty much everything MLB was talking about we've already implemented," Nafe said. "Our personnel down (the foul lines) are pretty much primed to intercept anyone coming over that short wall."

IN PERSPECTIVE: Bierbrodt took the move to the bullpen philosophically after four rough starts. "It's definitely a demotion, but it's definitely good for the team," he said. "I wasn't contributing at all."

MISCELLANY: Carl Crawford, hitless in four at-bats Monday and immersed in a 4-for-45 skid,is headed for a day off, possibly Wednesday. ... Rey Ordonez leads AL shortstops (that includes Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra and Miguel Tejada) with 15 RBIs. ... Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove missed a second game attending to his ill mother in Texas. He is expected back by the time the Orioles come to the Trop on Friday. ... Jason Standridge made his first appearance of the season for Durham on Sunday, pitching four innings for a save. ... Durham outfielder Jason Tyner is hitting .393.

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