tampabay.com

Waechter puts Lou's advice into practice

By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 29, 2005


TORONTO - Ultimately, what manager Lou Piniella wanted Thursday was a victory.

He had to settle for an improved effort from starter Doug Waechter, who followed Piniella's advice to concentrate more on throwing hard than on the finer points of pitching.

"Any time someone like Lou tells you anything about baseball, you want to listen to it, and he was right," Waechter said. "I can't be going out there thinking about mechanics or thinking about other stuff. I have to be out there thinking about just pitching. Definitely, it helped today."

Thursday's start was Waechter's second since coming up from Triple A, and though he hasn't won, he feels he is making progress.

"I just have to go out and continue to do what I was doing early in the game," he said. "Obviously any time you get the loss, it's not what you want, but I can take some positives out of this."

RULING COMING: MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson's ruling on additional discipline stemming from Sunday's scuffles with the Red Sox is expected today.

Suspensions and/or fines for Rays pitchers Lance Carter and Dewon Brazelton are possible, as well as for Boston's Bronson Arroyo and Trot Nixon.

MILESTONE AHEAD: Hideo Nomo makes a second attempt tonight for his 199th career victory, a combination of the success he had in his native Japan, then in the major leagues.

The 199th is important only because it will put him on the brink of 200, a significant accomplishment in Japan.

With 200 wins, Nomo will be eligible to join the Meikyukai, or Golden Players Club. Though not quite as important as the Hall of Fame, the Meikyukai is a significant honor. It takes 2,000 hits, 200 wins or 250 saves to get in, and there are only 43 members, including 15 pitchers.

If Nomo wins tonight, his first bid for his 200th win will be much hyped: a Wednesday game against the Yankees and Japanese star Hideki Matsui.

Rays pitching coach Chuck Hernandez said Nomo doesn't seem nervous or anxious about getting the milestone win.

"The guy's the same every day; I don't see any difference in him," Hernandez said. "But I'm sure it's an honor and something we hope he achieves very soon and everyone in Japan enjoys it."

PITCHING IN: Reliever Jesus Colome, sidelined since April 14 with right shoulder tendinitis, is hoping to test his shoulder in a bullpen session today. If all goes well, he could be activated next week.

"It feels good, but I just want to be sure," Colome said.

MR. CONSISTENCY: Scott Kazmir doesn't have a win in five starts this season, but the 21-year-old left-hander may be the Rays' most consistent starter thus far.

"I thought he threw the ball well (Wednesday) night," Hernandez said. "His stuff was very good. He made a couple pitches he'd like to have back, but overall I thought the kid threw the ball very well.

"Everyone would like to throw a shutout every time out, but it's difficult for a young guy. Early on he wasn't catching his slider, and that made him struggle a little bit, but as his slider came along and his changeup continues to improve from game to game, I think he's doing all right. He's given us a chance when he's out there, really in every start. I guess top to bottom he's our most consistent guy."

MISCELLANY: Piniella had not gotten a call back from Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who criticized the Rays manager on a Tuesday radio show. ... The four-game losing streak matches the Rays' season high. ... Rain is expected throughout the weekend in Baltimore. ... Catcher Charles Johnson returned to the lineup for the first time since leaving Sunday's game with a sore shoulder. The Jays stole two bases off him. ... The Rays were swept for the second time this season and are 1-7 on the road. ... The Rays have gotten only two quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer runs) in their past 17 games. ... Overall, their starters have a 7.84 ERA.