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Sosa back in lineup after a strong start

By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 30, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. - After Thursday's frustrating loss, Seattle manager Bob Melvin was lamenting his team's lack of success against Devil Rays starter Jorge Sosa, who held the mighty Mariners to one run over six innings.

"It's not like it's Cy Young out there," Melvin said.

Friday, Rays manager Lou Piniella had news for Melvin: "He's going to see him again."

Piniella decided Sosa did enough Thursday to warrant another start, and he'll get it Thursday at the Trop against Seattle.

"He threw very well," Piniella said. "He deserves to get the ball."

Sosa has shown flashes of dominance this season, but usually when he pitches in relief. As a starter he tends to struggle in the first inning, a pattern that led to him being dropped from the rotation twice.

The Rays tried several tactics to get him to be aggressive and throw hard from the start, once even having him warm up twice.

Based on how he looked Thursday, throwing in the mid 90s in the first inning and getting to 97 mph, he seems to have gotten the message.

What was the key?

"I think maybe a little stint in the bullpen," Piniella said. "We've talked to him about it a bunch of times. Hopefully it sunk in."

Piniella also confirmed that St. Petersburg native Doug Waechter will make his first big-league start Wednesday.

REINFORCEMENTS: The Rays may not call up any players until Triple-A Durham is done with the playoffs. Even then, Piniella said, "I wouldn't anticipate too many." Pitcher Jon Switzer, who had a strong start for the Bulls on Thursday, seems to be the only sure thing. Rosters can be expanded as of Monday. ... Infielder Terry Shumpert, on the disabled list since July31, rejoined the team after spending four days at his Colorado home helping his wife get their five kids ready to start school. Shumpert will be activated Tuesday. ... Pitcher Jeremi Gonzalez returned from Venezuela, where he was attending to his wife, Myra, who had complications from cosmetic surgery. "I think she's going to be okay," he said. Gonzalez said he will pitch as scheduled Sunday.

PLAYING AROUND: After Rocco Baldelli took a fly ball off his forehead Wednesday, Jared Sandberg suggested someone give him a catcher's mask as a joke. Baldelli took it well but brazenly answered back, having a large hole drilled in one of Sandberg's bats and presenting it to him after Thursday's game.

Sandberg, however, struck back at the brazen rookie. Baldelli's shoes, dress shirt and sport coat mysteriously disappeared while he was in the shower Thursday, forcing him to wear his batting practice jersey (with his name on the back) and borrowed flip-flops through the Seattle airport and on the flight to San Francisco. "It wasn't that bad," Baldelli said.

Sandberg insists he'll get the last laugh. "It's going to be an ongoing process until the end of the season," he said. "And if it carries over to the other rookies, it's Rocco's fault."

HOMECOMING WEEKEND: Adam Piatt, claimed off waivers from Oakland on Aug.19, said it was fun to see some old friends but odd to do so from the visitor's clubhouse.

Piatt, who played parts of four seasons with the A's, said he is more interested in showing the Rays he belonged than showing the A's they were wrong.

"It's a business," he said. "I've got to understand the fact that four years ago I was minor-league player of the year and I just got put on waivers. That's what can happen when you play part-time in this league. People forget about you. Hopefully there will be a much better opportunity for me here in the long run."

MISCELLANY: The Rays have lost 11 of their past 12 games in Oakland and are 6-22 at Network Associates Coliseum, their worst record in any park. ... Aubrey Huff's streak of 246 consecutive games played is third-longest among active players behind Oakland's Miguel Tejada (566) and Alex Rodriguez (522). ... The Rays said all players will sign autographs at the final two home Sunday games. ... Matt Diaz was named to the Double-A Southern League all-star team.

[Last modified August 30, 2003, 02:06:45]

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