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Manager preaches having faith in stuff
By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 28, 2005
TORONTO - Manager Lou Piniella made a simple request of Doug Waechter for today's matinee start: rear back and fire.
"I told Doug I want him to throw the ball," Piniella said. "It's nice for our young pitchers to think that they're pitchers. But I don't want them thinking pitching detracting from stuff.
"I want "stuff' first and foremost as opposed to location and trying to pitch. They're not ready to be location pitchers. Throw the baseball. God gave you the ability to throw the baseball with some strength and with some power, and that's what I want to see. I had that conversation with Waechter, and I had that same conversation with Mr. ( Seth) McClung."
Essentially, he wants his young pitchers to use their ability and not worry so much about the details.
"I want them to trust their stuff and I want them to get aggressive ... go get the hitter," Piniella said. "I don't want them taking off 3-4 miles an hour so they can locate the ball at the knees or on the corner or anything else. All it does is get them behind in the count. They throw more pitches, they walk more hitters, they hit more grand slams off of us.
"Let's just go get the hitter."
HOMER HAPPY: Jonny Gomes got some nice rewards for his first major-league home run Tuesday: the ball, the lineup card and dozens of phone calls and messages from well-wishers back home in California.
And he got some nice praise from Piniella, who is planning to ship out a position player when pitcher Mark Hendrickson comes off the disabled list to start Saturday in Baltimore. Gomes, who is hitting .333 with three RBIs in four games, appears to be the most likely candidate.
"He's making a case to stay here," Piniella said. "But we're not going to be able to stay with 11 pitchers; we don't have that luxury. We'll see what happens. I don't know what we'll do."
Gomes is known for his power, having hit 31 homers in 133 Triple-A games and 94 overall in the minors, and he was excited to get his first in the big leagues.
"There were people calling I didn't even know had my phone number," Gomes said. "And I don't know how they're getting it."
Gomes knocked the ball into the leftfield seats for a three-run homer in the seventh, and it took some help to get it back. The fan who caught the ball threw it back on the field, a ballboy retrieved it and gave it to another fan, then a stadium supervisor realized it was Gomes' first homer and arranged for the fan to give it back - though he wanted a bat in return.
Gomes plans to give the ball and lineup card to his mother.
"I'm glad to get the ball rolling," he said.
HOT JORGE: Second baseman Jorge Cantu's streak of reaching base in every Rays game ended at 20 when he was 0-for-4. Cantu had been one of four big-leaguers to reach base in all his team's games, joining Washington's Nick Johnson (21 of 21), Detroit's Brandon Inge (18 of 18) and St. Louis' Albert Pujols (18 of 18).
MINOR MATTERS: Top 2004 draft pick Jeff Niemann had a stellar outing Tuesday for Class A Visalia (Calif.), allowing an infield single to the leadoff hitter and nothing else over five innings, striking out 10 along the way, including five straight in one stretch. ... B.J. Upton had 11 extra-base hits, including his first homer, in a 14-game span for Triple-A Durham and raised his average to .337. ... Reliever Chad Orvella pitched another scoreless inning for Montgomery (Ala.), extended his career Double-A scoreless streak to 16 innings.
MISCELLANY: Catcher Charles Johnson's sore right shoulder continues to show improvement, and Piniella plans to start him today. ... Toby Hall went 3-for-4 to hike his average above .300 and picked up his first extra-base hit of the season, a seventh-inning double. ... The Rays are 1-6 on the road. ... There is no TV coverage of today's matinee. ... After allowing five unearned runs in their first 19 games, the Rays allowed four Tuesday.