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Lou pooh-poohs Yankees interest

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 17, 2003

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - The Devil Rays still were a couple hundred miles from the Bronx on Monday afternoon, but questions already started linking Lou Piniella to a potential Yankees managerial vacancy.

There have been several mentions in published reports, and lots of talk-radio blather, suggesting George Steinbrenner will fire Joe Torre and seek to hire Piniella, a longtime personal favorite. The volume is sure to increase today when the Rays open a four-game, three-day series at Yankee Stadium.

"I have no idea where that came from," Piniella said. "You can look at it as a fun statement and nothing more, nothing less.

"There's no basis, there's no foundation to it, believe me. I signed a contract here for four years to get a job done and I plan on being here."

Piniella said he didn't know, and didn't want to know, what the story was with Torre.

"I'm not going to get involved in any of what's going on, if anything is going on, because I don't know and, truly, I don't really care," he said. "I have enough problems here worrying about our baseball team. They've had a lot of success over there and sometimes it gets a little rocky, but so what?"

ORDONEZ OKAY: Shortstop Rey Ordonez looked good in 41/2 innings of play Monday and is likely to be activated from the disabled list for the second game of today's doubleheader.

Ordonez, out since May 9 with a sprained left knee, had no problems in the field, even slipping once with no repercussions, and went 1-for-3.

"Ordonez looked to me like he's ready to play," Piniella said. "The final answer will come (today) but unless there's a setback overnight, and we don't expect it, he'll be activated for the night game."

Said Ordonez: "It felt much better, but we'll have to see (today)."

When Ordonez returns, Julio Lugo is expected to split time between second and third. A position player is expected to be sent down or out, with Jason Tyner, Al Martin and Terry Shumpert possibilities.

RULING PENDING: MLB officials were reviewing video and umpire reports from Saturday's brawl with Pittsburgh. Second baseman Marlon Anderson is likely to be fined and probably suspended. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said a ruling is expected this week.

DELMON DOLLARS: Rays officials were working on final details of a contract proposal, likely a major-league contract worth around $4-million, to top draft pick Delmon Young, a 17-year-old high school outfielder.

"We'll be making the offer in the spirit of getting him out there playing as soon as possible," general manager Chuck LaMar said.

BIG TEST: Piniella was blunt in his assessment last week that he didn't think Dewon Brazelton was ready to pitch in the major leagues and only was here out of necessity.

After two particularly rough starts, Brazelton goes back to the mound tonight in what could be a final chance to show Piniella he was wrong.

"I guess to a certain extent I (see it that way), but I'm not too terribly worried about it," Brazelton said. "I'm going to go out there and try to do my best and hopefully that's good, and if it's not good enough then whatever. I fully intend on going out there and having a good game."

ROUGH ROAD: The Rays have lost 19 of 24, and now things may get really tough as they enter the most difficult part of their schedule.

Starting today, the Rays play 11 of their next 14 against the Yankees and Braves, then nine of 12 after that against the Red Sox, A's and Mariners.

"I think the whole schedule's been tough for us," Piniella said. "I haven't seen an easy part yet, I really haven't."

MISCELLANY: Toby Hall played the final five innings Monday at first base, the catcher's first appearance there since college. ... Piniella was impressed with catcher Pete LaForest and said he expected to see him called up this summer. ... Rocco Baldelli remains 10th among outfielders in the AL All-Star balloting with 181,324 votes.

Today's lineup
  • Jose, can you see? Rays not interested
  • Lou pooh-poohs Yankees interest
  • Rays soak in history
  • Up next: Yankees

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