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Rolls' injuries worse than first realized

By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 26, 2004

[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Tino Martinez reaches back to make sure he has touched home as he scores on Julio Lugo's sacrifice fly in the fourth.

ST. PETERSBURG - When Damian Rolls was hurt in a seventh-inning collision with Jose Cruz on Sunday, he was hoping to stay in the game. Now, Rolls is hoping to be playing again by mid June.

Rolls was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after further tests and examination showed he had a cracked sternum and bruises to his chest, pancreas, liver, spleen and lungs. Charles Gipson was brought up from Triple-A Durham to take his roster spot.

"I feel like I've been hit by a train," Rolls said. "It's all bruised inside. I can't even stand up straight."

Rolls said he knew the injuries were more severe when he started throwing up Sunday night and ended up at St. Anthony's Hospital.

Manager Lou Piniella said the Rays are hoping Rolls, a versatile and valuable bench player, can be back in about three weeks.

"He got beat up," Piniella said. "Poor kid. He's got three or four areas, with the sternum most major."

NOW PITCHING: Jason Standridge will replace struggling veteran Paul Abbott in the rotation and start Thursday against the Twins.

Standridge, working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, was reinstated from the disabled list May 19 and made an impressive debut that night with 31/3 innings of scoreless relief.

"The pitching coach (Chuck Hernandez) would like to give him an opportunity," Piniella said. "We'll give him an opportunity to pitch a little bit."

Standridge is 0-5 with a 5.87 ERA in eight big-league starts but said he is pitching better. "I'm very confident and I'm going out there knowing what I want to do and doing it to the best of my ability," he said.

Abbott, 36, will go to the bullpen to try to work out the problems - specifically a lack of aggressiveness - that led to a 0-3 record and 9.97 ERA over his past five starts.

"I'm only angry at myself, and I'm not saying it's the wrong move at all," Abbott said. "It's something that can easily be corrected."

GOOD MORNING AMERICA: Gipson, 31, was riding the bus with the Triple-A Durham team from Indianapolis to Louisville early Tuesday morning when he got word of his promotion.

This is Gipson's second stint with the Rays this season; he was added to the roster before the March 30 opener in Tokyo but appeared in only one game and was designated for assignment April 5.

Gipson, who has played parts of seven seasons in the majors, did well at Durham, hitting .321 in 21 games while playing the infield and outfield.

"In my years of playing ball I've been moved up and down so many times I don't ever expect anything not to happen," Gipson said. "You've got to be ready for something. You put up good numbers and somebody goes down and you're going to have an opportunity. I just try to put up numbers, play smart baseball and wait for another call."

CRIME DOG ROARS: Fred McGriff, who is within a week of being called up, hit his first homer for Durham on Monday as part of a 3-for-5 night. McGriff is 5-for-18 (.278) in five games and on track to be called up when the Rays are in Minnesota next week.

"He's getting closer," Piniella said.

SOME RELIEF: The bullpen has been on a roll, going into Tuesday's game with a team-record streak of 22 scoreless innings. But though the group is doing well, Piniella would like to do a little more tinkering.

"We're getting closer," he said. "It's not exactly where we want it. We're very pleased with the way they're pitching, obviously. We'd like to have one more power arm if we could."

MISCELLANY: Rocco Baldelli was moved from centerfield to DH due to continuing tightness in his right thigh. Carl Crawford went from left to center and Robert Fick from DH to left. ... Shortstop prospect B.J. Upton is hitting .375 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 12 games at Durham. ... Montgomery centerfielder Joey Gathright is leading the Double-A Southern League with a .364 average. ... The Rays signed a multiyear deal with ABC Regional Sports Sales to handle advertising sales for their TV network.

[Last modified May 26, 2004, 01:00:46]

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