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Team's loyalty questioned as Carter heads to minors
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO and MARC TOPKIN
Published July 23, 2005
ST. PETERSBURG - Lance Carter did not want to talk about it.
The Devil Rays reliever Friday was optioned to Triple-A Durham, and the right-hander apparently decided it was better to say nothing than something he would regret.
Carter's teammates were another story.
"It's pretty brutal, actually," rightfielder Aubrey Huff said. "He's an All-Star. He's been here for three years. He takes the ball and never complains if he's hurt or not."
"I'm not sure," reliever Trever Miller said, "that was the right move."
The move was one of four, including activating reliever Jesus Colome off the disabled list, demoting catcher Kevin Cash to Durham and calling up catcher Pete Laforest.
But it was Carter's demotion that struck a nerve.
The Bradenton native has been with Tampa Bay since 2002, and in 2003 he was an All-Star and had 26 saves.
He struggled this season in a setup role and as an occasional closer, going 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA and one save in 451/3 innings. In June and July he allowed 14 earned runs in 172/3 innings.
But Huff said he believes Carter deserved some loyalty.
"Absolutely. Christ, the guy's an All-Star," Huff said. "Lance is a good friend of mine and it kind of (ticks) you off a little bit. ... A lot of teams make bad moves. Not to say it's a bad move or right or whatever. It's just a shame because he's given a lot to this organization."
Miller wondered why Carter wasn't traded.
"He told me on the way out there was no other teams interested. That was the word he got from the front office people," Miller said. "I find that hard to believe. In fact, I don't believe that for a minute."
General manager Chuck LaMar was unavailable for comment. Manager Lou Piniella said the decision was "not easy" and Carter did not take the news well.
"He wasn't happy," Piniella said. "I didn't expect him to be."
"He never quit in the middle of an outing, never left his bullpen guys or the team to hang out to dry," Miller said. "It's a shame that's what it has come down to this season."
TRADING PARTNERS: The Rays were involved Friday, at least for a while, in the ongoing trade talks between the Orioles and Marlins that have centered on Florida's A.J. Burnett.
The Rays apparently would have sent Miller to the Marlins for struggling Orioles starter Sidney Ponson, who first would have gone to Florida with Larry Bigbie, Jorge Julio and Hayden Penn for Burnett and Mike Lowell.
Indications, though, were that Ponson would not waive his limited no-trade clause to go to the Rays, one of 10 teams to which he cannot be traded without his permission.
Ponson is 7-8 with a 6.04 ERA and is due $10-million next season. Under terms of the deal, Tampa Bay would have been responsible for only $2-million.
NEXT ACT: The Rays put themselves in a tricky position by keeping Dewon Brazelton, who also has minor-league options available. The right-hander, who went on unauthorized leave the last time he was sent down, could be suspended shortly for his role in April's brawl with the Red Sox. Piniella said if that occurs, the team likely will tough it with 10 pitchers.
ADDITIONS: Laforest batted .270 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs in 70 games with Durham. Cash was at .161 (5-for-31) with two home runs in 13 games for Tampa Bay. Colome (shoulder) made three appearances with Double-A Montgomery and pitched four scoreless innings with three strikeouts.
SIGNING: The Des Moines Register reported that Jeremy Hellickson, the Rays' fourth-round pick, will today sign a contract worth about $600,000. The Des Moines native, a right-hander, should report to Princeton of the Appalachian League.
MISCELLANY: Travis Lee's sixth pinch hit is one off the Rays record set in 2000 by Steve Cox. ... Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro has an 11-game hitting streak. ... As expected, Piniella said right-hander Doug Waechter will pitch Monday against the Red Sox. ... Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli served a one-game suspension for his ejection June 19 against the Rockies. Bench coach Sam Perlozzo ran the club.