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Brazelton ready to take his turn in spot fight

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 4, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS - Dewon Brazelton had hoped to win a spot in the Devil Rays rotation out of spring training. Having been called up from Triple-A Durham on Thursday, now he hopes to make the most of the opportunity, starting Sunday in Baltimore.

"I can't do anything about what happened in spring training," Brazelton said. "All I know is that I'm here now, and I want to do the best I can right now, just do well for me and the team."

Brazelton and reliever Jesus Colome were recalled from Durham on a busy day that saw veteran starter Paul Abbott released, reliever Jason Standridge designated for assignment and infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista claimed on waivers from Baltimore, requiring another move before tonight's game.

Brazelton, the team's top pick in the 2001 draft, was 4-4 with a 4.71 ERA at Durham and didn't allow a home run in 492/3 innings. He is pitching better, and differently, than when he went 1-6 with a 6.89 ERA for the Rays last season and was sent all the way down to Class-A Bakersfield to rebuild his delivery.

"I feel I have to show my teammates and my coaching staff what I learned and the experience I gained," Brazelton said. "I wasn't just down there twiddling my thumbs. I figured out some things as far as my mechanics, as far as everything goes, just being a pitcher and a more mature pitcher. So I get a chance to show everybody."

Colome has struggled in each of his previous big-league stints, going 7-17 with a 5.49 ERA and allowing 162 hits and 104 walks in 164 innings. He was 2-1, 3.52 with two saves at Durham, allowing 27 hits (but no home runs) and 16 walks in 302/3 innings.

COMING ... : Bautista, 23, was 3-for-11 in 16 games for the Orioles before being designated for assignment on May 25. Bautista, who hit .242 at Class-A Lynchburg last season, is a Rule 5 draft pick from Pittsburgh who must be kept on the big-league roster.

Bautista, who attended Chipola College in Marianna, can play third base and outfield. The Rays have to make room for him on the roster. Unless they can trade or decide to release Geoff Blum or Rey Sanchez , utility man Charles Gipson seems most likely to go.

GOING ... : Abbott, signed as a free agent for $600,000, was disappointed he didn't pitch better. The 36-year-old right-hander started the season 2-1, but was 0-4 with a 9.62 ERA since.

He plans to go home to California and wait for another opportunity, confident he can still pitch successfully in the big leagues. He will be free to sign with another team starting Monday.

"I definitely want to pitch," he said. "I definitely don't want it to end like this. It would be good to light a little fire under me and force me to see if I really do want to stick around and play this game."

Manager Lou Piniella said the decision was tough because Abbott had pitched for him in Seattle, too.

"We're going younger, obviously, and this will give Paul a chance to catch on with another team, and hopefully he will," he said. "In his favor, he's healthy."

Since Standridge is out of options, the Rays likely will try to get him through waivers and send him back to Durham.

"He had (shoulder) surgery, he feels good, I think he just needs a little more time," Piniella said. "For his sake, I hope he gets claimed so he can stay in the big leagues. But if not, we'd love to have him back at Triple A so he can keep working."

MISCELLANY: Player development/scouting director Cam Bonifay said the Rays will continue scouting through the weekend before deciding who they want to take with the No. 4 pick in Monday's draft. ... The three road wins the Rays had in this series were as many as they had in the first two months of the season. ... They had not won a four-game series anywhere since taking three of four from the Yankees at the end of the 2001 season, and hadn't won one on the road since September 2000 in Toronto.

[Last modified June 3, 2004, 23:59:12]

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