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Baldelli feels better, Waechter doesn't

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 10, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - Rocco Baldelli got back on the field Wednesday the day after a severe bout of food poisoning led to him being carried out of his apartment building on a stretcher and hospitalized for six hours.

But the Rays won't know until today about the status of rookie pitcher Doug Waechter, who left Tuesday's game with a strained right middle finger, will miss at least one start and could end up on the disabled list.

"Waechter we're a little more concerned about," manager Lou Piniella said. "It's not the ligament, but it could be the tendon. He went to a hand specialist this afternoon and now he's having an MRI."

Waechter felt some numbness in his middle finger while warming up before the first innings, but went on to throw 40 pitches over two innings before being taken out of the game. "I wish he would have said something to somebody," Piniella said. "He thought he could pitch through it."

With Waechter's status uncertain, lefty John Halama will likely start Saturday. If Waechter can resume pitching, he will probably start next week in Arizona. If he's not ready, "we're going to have get another pitcher in here."

Baldelli got some drive-through Mexican food on his way home from the Lightning game late Monday and woke at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday feeling very sick. He called his father, who was in town, but eventually became so weak and dehydrated he couldn't stand and realized he needed to go to the hospital and called an ambulance.

He received four bags of IV fluids at the hospital and was released Tuesday night but was still rather weak on Wednesday afternoon. He pinch-ran in the eighth, bunted in the 10th, and hopes to be in the lineup tonight.

MORE TROUBLE?: Once-promising prospect Josh Hamilton's troubles are apparently continuing, and his chances for reinstatement from a yearlong drug-related suspension likely dwindling.

After telling ESPN The Magazine last month "a light went on in my head" and he was headed toward sobriety, Hamilton abruptly left the Tampa rehab center before completing his treatment program. According to the magazine, it was Hamilton's sixth time in treatment.

Outfielder Carl Crawford, who has been in occasional contact with Hamilton, was surprised at the latest development.

"I talked to him a couple weeks ago and he said everything was good and he was trying to get back," Crawford said. "And now I hear this . . ."

RAP AND ROLL: Most of the Rays players, coaches and Piniella will be at Largo's Liberty Lanes (11401 Starkey Road) Sunday night for a bowling event to raise money for the St. Pete Stingers 12-and-under AAU baseball team.

For $100, fans can mingle, get autographs, and bowl three games with the Rays. Food and beverages are included. Call (727) 424-9047 to register; check-in starts at 6 p.m., bowling at 7. The Stingers are seeking funds to go to Cooperstown, N.Y., for a tournament.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: The Rays debuted the Let's Play . . . For The Kids program, where players and coaches buy tickets that are donated to local charities. "Some give-back-to-the-community action," Geoff Blum said. The Rays will match the donations, and about 16,000 tickets (and T-shirts) will be given out. Small basic signs were posted beyond leftfield for groups such as Tino's Team, Hall's Heroes, Blum's Bunch, etc.

MISCELLANY: Barry Bonds is flying to California this morning to attend a funeral and won't play tonight. . . . Aubrey Huff's 15-game hitting streak ended. . . . First-round draft pick Jeff Niemann will visit Friday. . . . Pitcher Paul Abbott, released last week, signed a Triple-A deal with the Phillies. ... Bucs coach Jon Gruden was at the game and did some play-by-play in the Rays radio booth. ... Righthander Jason Standridge cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Durham.

[Last modified June 10, 2004, 01:00:12]

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