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Colome injured in warmups, may be lost for the season

TOM JONES
Published September 6, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG - Devil Rays reliever Jesus Colome has had one bumpy season. So, naturally, it's no surprise that it might have come to an end in unusual fashion.

Colome could be out for the rest of the season after straining an oblique muscle Thursday night while warming up in the bullpen. Manager Lou Piniella said Colome would be "out a while" and that Colome's season could be done.

If so, it caps a season in which Colome was, at times, really good and, at times, not so good. He had a 25-game stretch with a 2.18 ERA in 411/3 innings. Then again, in his past three appearances, Colome has blown two saves and allowed five hits, including two homers, six walks and five runs in five innings.

It was like that for him all season - a good stretch followed by a bad one.

"It's a shame," Piniella said of the injury. "Colome has shown a lot of improvement this year. Does he need to continue to improve? Yes. But he has improved. He has had some real nice stretches. We need more consistency from him, obviously, but that's going to come with experience."

Overall, though, Piniella was pleased and encouraged by Colome, who is 3-7 with two saves, a 4.50 ERA and 54 appearances.

"He has got to continue to work on his breaking ball," Piniella said. "He has got to continue to work on his changeup. But he has shown some real nice stretches where the future is bright for him."

NIGHT OFF: Rays bench coach John McLaren served a one-game suspension Friday and was fined for his argument Sunday with umpire Joe Brinkman.

McLaren argued a check-swing call that went against the Rays. He and Brinkman went face to face, but McLaren did not make contact with Brinkman. Major League Baseball's official release said McLaren was suspended and fined for "yelling from the dugout and arguing."

"I really don't understand why he was suspended," Piniella said. "The fine, that's understandable. But a suspension? For arguing? ... I listened to that conversation. I was there firsthand, and McLaren's aggressiveness was provoked."

The bench coach, at least Piniella's bench coach, does more than sit on the bench and agree with the manager. Beside keeping track of the lineups for both teams and calling certain pitcher's signs, McLaren provides Piniella with advice.

"I probably utilize my bench coach as much as or more than all the other managers," Piniella said. "If I'm unsure about a situation, I'll ask, "What would you do?' ... I like feedback. I'll ask if I'm undecided. When I ask, the biggest percentage of the time, I'll go with his suggestion."

Hitting coach Lee Elia, fined for his role in Sunday's argument, was bench coach.

RAIN CHECK: The Rays monitored the weather Friday, but never gave serious thought to postponing the game because of Tropical Storm Henri.

Only once has a Rays home game been canceled and it was against Oakland. Because of weather conditions related to Hurricane Gordon, the game on Sept. 17, 2000, was canceled.

CLINIC: Rays players Al Martin and Chad Gaudin will conduct a clinic this morning for the Clearwater American Little League Challenger Division, which provides children with disabilities the chance to play organized baseball.

SIGN PLEASE: Pitcher Doug Waechter and Damian Rolls will sign autographs at Tropicana Field near the rightfield line before today's game from 4:45 to 5:15.

MISCELLANY: Jared Sandberg's fifth-inning double snapped an 0-for-17 slump. ... The A's second-inning run snapped the Rays' shutout streak at 19 innings. The team record is 22, set May 19-22, 2002.

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