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Ailing shoulder sidelines Crawford

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published September 1, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - The sore right shoulder Devil Rays outfielder Carl Crawford sustained Aug. 7 against the Mariners is apparently a little worse than first believed.

Crawford didn't start Tuesday against the Orioles but pinch ran in the 10th and was thrown out trying to steal second. He finished the game in centerfield and lined to shortstop and into an unassisted double play to end the game. Before the game, manager Lou Piniella said Crawford could be out a few games. He is scheduled for an MRI exam today.

"It bothers him when he swings," Piniella said. "He's tried to play through it, but it's been bothering him. A couple of days rest will do him good."

Crawford was hurt in the eighth inning against Seattle diving for two balls. He missed one, which went for a double, and caught one. Both times he landed hard on the Trop's turf.

Crawford, batting .295 with league highs of 17 triples and 50 stolen bases, was receiving treatment before the game and was unavailable for comment.

The injury could affect when the Rays call up outfielder Joey Gathright from Triple-A Durham. Rosters can be expanded today from 25 to 40 players, but Piniella said the plan is to try not to disturb the Bulls roster until they finish the playoffs.

"But if CC is out for a while, we can get Gathright up here right away," Piniella said.

DEADLINE PASSES, BALDELLI SITS: Tuesday was the last day trades could be made in which the acquired player could participate in the playoffs, and Rays general manager Chuck LaMar worked the phones.

Had a deal been done that opened a roster spot, centerfielder Rocco Baldelli (strained right thigh) likely would have been activated from the 15-day disabled list. But with rosters expanding today, the decision was made to wait.

SHOOT FOR 70: Piniella said he would like to see the team play around .500 through its final 31 games. That would ensure Tampa Bay's first 70-win season.

With 59, the Rays need 11 to break the team record and be substantially better than last season's 63.

"I think it's a nice target to shoot for. I really do," Piniella said of 70 victories. "We've got some tough spots on the schedule and some spots where we should be able to play and compete. So we'll see."

Some players, though, weren't too enthused talking about winning only 70.

"We're not going to win the division so whatever," Aubrey Huff said. "When we start to win 90 and get into a playoff run, then we'll talk about it."

"Last year the big deal was playing to try not to lose 100," catcher Toby Hall said. "Every year it's some sort of negative goal we shouldn't have. We try to play to win every night. It's not something where we're just going to try to win 70 games."

ON THE MARK: Piniella wants to see something good from pitcher Mark Hendrickson, and the sooner the better. The left-hander, who starts today, has lost his past five decisions in which he allowed 27 earned runs and had a 10.42 ERA.

Piniella said "a good finish from him really solidifies a spot in next year's rotation."

Hendrickson, 8-13 with a 4.91 ERA, said location has been his main problem, and he has worked hard on the side with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez to make corrections.

"A rough month," Hendrickson said of August. "But the month's over. I'm coming to the mound to finish up strong. Most people remember the last month more than August."

Hendrickson, a combined 6-3 in June and July with a 2.80 ERA, the league's second best in that stretch, said he has not lost confidence.

"Sometimes you fight yourself," he said. "But I'm mature enough and strong enough to get over that. Take it from the side and move forward."

Still, Piniella said, "Invariably what gives you confidence is to win a baseball game."

ODDS AND ENDS: The home run Jorge Julio allowed to Huff was the third ninth-inning home run he has allowed at the Trop that blew a save. ... The Rays were 10-18 in August. ... U.S. track star Meb Keflezighi, who won silver in the marathon at the Olympics, attended the game.

[Last modified September 1, 2004, 01:10:40]

Today's lineup
Rays
Tough loss has Lou speechless
Ailing shoulder sidelines Crawford

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Whittle's dealt as the Bucs trim to 65
Tampa Bay ready to ride it out with Gramatica


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