tampabay.com

Brazelton meets with teammates

The newly recalled pitcher tries to clear the air after refusing a minor-league assignment in May.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published June 26, 2005


ST. PETERSBURG - It was only a few minutes, but perhaps it was enough time to start the healing process.

Devil Rays pitcher Dewon Brazelton addressed his teammates in a closed-door meeting before Saturday night's game with the Marlins, a day after some said they had reservations about his return.

"I don't expect anyone to understand or give a (bleep)," Brazelton said of his situation. "But I felt I did what I had to do, and now I'm just going to play."

Manager Lou Piniella said he suggested the meeting and Brazelton may have apologized.

Several teammates questioned rewarding a player who in May walked away from a minor-league assignment and had just one three-inning outing at Double-A Montgomery. Infielder Jorge Cantu said a couple of teammates told Brazelton during the meeting, "He has to earn back that respect."

Still, Cantu said, "It was good for him to talk to us."

Brazelton was called up Friday after a tumultuous six weeks that began May 11 when he refused an assignment to Triple-A Durham. A three-week leave of absence has not been publicly explained.

And it may not anytime soon, as Brazelton told the Times, "I know I'm a public figure and a lot of things about your life are public. But in a certain sense everything can't be. There are just some things in life, even though I'm a public figure, that are private."

Brazelton, 25, the Rays' opening-day starter, said he never considered how his return would be perceived by teammates.

Now that he knows not all welcomed him back with open arms, Brazelton said, "There is nothing I can do about that. I can't control what another person thinks. I can't control what another person feels about me. All I can do is do my job.

"Everybody wants to be liked. Everyone wants to be part of a team. Everybody wants everybody to be cool with them. But I can't control how somebody feels about my situation. All I can try to do is do the best I can and move forward with that."

"The best way for him to endear himself is to go out and perform and help the club to win some ballgames," Piniella said.

That is the second step. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 12/3 innings against Florida. The first step occurred before the game. "At a certain point when I'm not talking about it, I'm a jerk, I'm an (expletive), I'm this and that. But that's not the case," Brazelton said before the meeting.

"I'm sorry anybody thinks I let them down or anybody thought I walked out on them. Maybe I didn't do a good job of conveying it to my teammates. ... I'm not trying to be a (jerk) to anybody."