tampabay.com

Guthrie to seek job elsewhere

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, MARC TOPKIN
Published March 17, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - Mark Guthrie has been around enough to know what's going on. So when he saw several Rays teammates getting called into manager Lou Piniella's office Wednesday morning, he changed back into his jeans and golf shirt and waited to be summoned.

The Rays released the 39-year-old left-hander, though they buffeted the news by making the decision in time for him to catch on elsewhere.

"A lot of teams keep guys around for their own selfishness in case somebody gets hurt," Guthrie said. "I appreciate their honesty in letting me go and giving me another chance to hook on."

Guthrie pitched in two exhibitions, retiring all six batters he faced. But he was essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time, the role he signed for filled when the Rays acquired Casey Fossum in a Feb. 6 trade.

Guthrie, who didn't pitch anywhere last season, said the most important development of the spring has been the health of his left shoulder, which 10 months after surgery has felt great.

"It's perfect," he said. "I haven't felt this good in seven or eight years. ... I vowed that if I didn't feel better, if it felt the same (as it had), I'd just retire. But it feels better, and that's what keeps me playing. I don't think I'll go out there and embarrass myself. I think I can be the same pitcher I was."

Piniella said health is the only question.

"I thought he was throwing the ball respectable," Piniella said. "I hope he can catch on with somebody."

ALOMAR CLOSE: Piniella said second baseman Roberto Alomar, out since March 10 with a sore back, could be ready Friday against the Blue Jays. Alomar, 37, is 0-for-10 in four games and has looked sluggish in the field.

"We'll put him in there on Friday and see how he does," Piniella said.

MAYBE DAY 2: Mark Hendrickson said last week he wanted to be the opening-day starter. Still, the left-hander took in stride Piniella's announcement that Dewon Brazelton has the job.

"It's fine," Hendrickson said. "It's one of those things you'd like to do, but all along it was never my choice. I want (Piniella) to know I'm willing to take the ball. That's what I want to do. But if I don't, I'm not going to pack it in. I'm going to get ready and do what I have to do."

GAME DETAILS: Alex Gonzalez's run-scoring single in the sixth inning was the winner in the Rays' 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Progress Energy Park. He also made a diving catch in the second inning of Rondell White's line drive down the third-base line. ... Shortstop Julio Lugo prevented a run with one out in the third inning with his leaping grab of Carlos Pena's bouncer. ... It took seven games and nine at-bats, but catcher and Tampa native Kevin Cash got his first hit, a third-inning single. ... Lugo had a third-inning sacrifice fly but was robbed of an extra-base hit by Dewayne Wise's full-extension catch in centerfield. ... Hard-throwing right-hander Angel Garcia hit Pena in the head with a fastball in the fifth inning. Pena left the game but walked off under his own power. ... Garcia pitched three scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out four. ... Second baseman Luis Ordaz made an acrobatic grab in the ninth inning of Tony Giarratano's hard-hit bouncer.

MISCELLANY: While several top pitching prospects were sent down, top draft pick Jeff Niemann will get at least one more look, scheduled to work in relief today against the Phillies. ... Hendrickson will pitch in a minor-league game Friday rather than face the Blue Jays, whom the Rays face in the season-opening series. ... If former Tigers centerfielder Alex Sanchez clears waivers today, the Rays could have interest. Sanchez was drafted by the Rays in 1996. ... The Rays and Tampa's Parks and Recreation Department will rededicate the refurbished North Seminole Heights Little League fields at Rowlett Park at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. Rays managing general partner Vince Naimoli and Tampa mayor Pam Iorio are scheduled to attend.