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Brazelton headed to bullpen for now

Published June 19, 2003

NEW YORK - Dewon Brazelton's wayward train ride and woeful performance took him out of the rotation and into the bullpen and may lead him back to the minor leagues.

Rays officials, from general manager Chuck LaMar down, were still upset Wednesday with Brazelton, who showed up an hour later than scheduled Tuesday after taking the wrong train from the hotel and had another poor outing in the second game of the day-night doubleheader.

Manager Lou Piniella said Brazelton will work out of the bullpen rather than make his next start, which would have been Monday against the Yankees. And he wouldn't say when, or if, Brazelton would start again.

"For now he's going into the bullpen," Piniella said. "I don't think anybody was too pleased. We'll leave it at that."

Brazelton has shown the ability to pitch in the big leagues, but his preparation and competitiveness have come into question. The Rays are short on starters, but if Joe Kennedy is ready to come off the disabled list next week, the Rays may send Brazelton - 1-6 with a 6.46 ERA - back to the minors, perhaps to Double-A Orlando.

"Lou and I are in complete agreement that Dewon Brazelton has earned the right to be taken out of the starting rotation," LaMar said. "He'll pitch out of the bullpen - for now."

PARRIS GONE: Veteran Steve Parris was released after failing to show enough arm strength to be effective out of the bullpen and was replaced by Brandon Backe.

Parris, 35, made the opening-week rotation with a strong spring but struggled (0-3, 6.25) and went on the disabled list to build arm strength. He came back 31/2 weeks later and worked three times in relief, allowing 14 hits in 72/3 innings.

"He tried, but he'd go out and pitch and lose his arm strength," Piniella said. "We wish him well and appreciate his contribution."

Parris said he would have gone back on the disabled list and tried to regain his strength but the Rays didn't give him that option. Instead he plans to take the rest of the season off to try to strengthen his shoulder for a possible return next season.

"It's frustrating," Parris said. "I felt okay coming out of spring training but then my velocity dropped and I got a little weak. I took some time off but it wasn't enough to sustain me. The biggest thing was getting my strength back and I just didn't have it."

The Rays are responsible for the remainder of Parris' $400,000 salary.

Backe was with the Rays for a short stint last month, with a 10.38 ERA in three games. He was 2-1 with a 4.64 ERA in 16 games at Triple-A Durham.

He will work in long relief in place of Jorge Sosa, who will make a spot start Saturday at Florida.

ORDONEZ UPDATE: Shortstop Rey Ordonez's sprained left knee felt a little better, but a decision on activating him won't come until after he sees his personal doctor in South Florida on Friday.

HEAD EAST: The Rays are expected to soon announce a working agreement with the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japanese League. Managing general partner Vince Naimoli said the key benefit of the agreement will be an exchange of scouting information. That could come in handy because Piniella said the Rays would be interested in signing Japanese players during the offseason. "We're scouting the Japanese professional leagues very well," Piniella said.

DURHAM-BOUND: Infielder Jeff Liefer, designated for assignment a week after being claimed from Montreal, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham. Liefer was 1-for-12 in four games.

DOUBLING UP: The Rays in Tuesday's matinee were the first team since the 1990 Red Sox to hit into six double plays in a game, tying the AL record. When they hit into two more in the nightcap, they were the first since the 1977 Blue Jays to hit into eight in the same day. ... The Rays' 25 hits were their most in franchise history for one day.

MISCELLANY: For the first time this season, both Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford were out of the starting lineup. ... Julio Lugo struck out four times, tying the team record. ... Victor Zambrano has pitched 242/3 innings at Yankee Stadium without allowing an earned run.

[Last modified June 19, 2003, 02:07:56]

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