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Fick plans apology to clothesline victim

By Times Staff Writer
Published April 30, 2004

BOSTON - If Robert Fick gets the chance tonight, he plans to tell Eric Karros he is sorry.

The last time Fick and Karros were on the field together in October, things didn't go too well. Fick, playing for the Braves, struck Karros, playing first for the Cubs, with his forearm during a play in Game 4 of the NL division series that became a huge controversy.

Fick, who made the situation worse with inflammatory postgame comments, got fined by Major League Baseball, criticized by other players and, eventually, let go by the Braves. Fick later softened his comments and said he wrote a letter to Karros, who has since signed with the A's, but tonight he plans to apologize in person.

"I hope he forgives me," Fick said. "I'm not proud of what happened. I'm just glad everything worked out all right. ... I don't know if he'll accept my apology. I don't hold any grudges and hopefully he won't."

Fick figures he could have taken a lot more heat over the play had the Cubs faithful not found a new enemy in Steve Bartman, the overzealous fan who grabbed the ball during the playoffs with the Marlins.

"He kind of bailed me out," Fick said.

PITCHING IN: Damian Moss' eight-batter start, matching the second shortest in team history, may have been his last. And because manager Lou Piniella doesn't want to carry two left-handed long relievers, the Rays may have no choice but to dump Moss, who signed for $850,000, possibly designating him for assignment to try to get him through waivers to Triple A. Mark Hendrickson, who had been dropped from the rotations, will get another chance Sunday in a spot start against Oakland.

COOLED OFF: Infielder Geoff Blum and manager Lou Piniella both said Thursday there were no lingering issues from their somewhat heated exchange in the dugout before Wednesday's game.

"We had our blowout, it's over, we both said it's over," Blum said.

Piniella told reporters Tuesday he was "disappointed" in Blum's hitting and had been "expecting more"; Blum didn't appreciate reading it and told him so.

"Everything's good," Piniella said. "There are no doghouses here."

NO SALE: Considerable progress has been made on completing Stuart Sternberg's purchase of 48 percent of the team, but the deal is not expected to close until next week.

HOME BOY: When St. Petersburg native Doug Waechter pitched at Tropicana Field last season, hundreds of friends and relatives came to watch. He makes his first start of this season there tonight against Oakland, but he doesn't have any idea who is planning to attend.

"My cell phone broke (Wednesday)," Waechter said. "I haven't been able to talk to anybody. And I'm one of those people who has all my numbers in my cell phone, I don't know anyone's number, so I can't call anyone. It's like I'm stranded."

Technical malfunctions aside, Waechter can't wait to get on the mound.

"I love pitching at home," he said. "I like the atmosphere, and with the dome you always know what you are going to get."

PACKING IT IN: The Rays were due home from an 11-day trip around 3 a.m. and have to be packed to leave for a weeklong trip when they head to the ballpark Sunday morning. Except for those with good dry cleaner connections, that makes for some tough clothing choices.

"Either you recycle," reliever Travis Harper said, "or you go to B-level."

Actually, Piniella said, it should be easy.

"You take different clothes," he said. "We're going to more casual places."

NOW STARTING: Mark Hendrickson, dropped from the rotation after three ineffective starts, will get another chance Sunday, making a spot start against Oakland.

HIT MAN: Hitting coach Lee Elia, recovering from April 22 surgery to remove his gall bladder, is expected to rejoin the team today. Minor-league hitting coordinator Steve Henderson is likely to stay with the club through the weekend.

MISCELLANY: Attendance for Thursday's afternoon game was 35,614, the largest crowd at Fenway Park since Sept. 28, 1990. ... Reliever Franklin Nunez, who had allowed one earned run in 102/3 innings at Double-A Montgomery, was promoted to Triple-A Durham and Jim Magrane was sent down. ... Jason Standridge moves up to Durham tonight for his third rehab start recovering from shoulder surgery. ... Radio broadcaster Charlie Slowes is expected to rejoin the team tonight after missing three games due to a death in his family.

[Last modified April 30, 2004, 01:05:39]

Today's lineup
Rays manager being treated for diabetes
Ugly trip comes to ugly end
Fick plans apology to clothesline victim
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