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Hollins: Just let it happen, be ready

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
Published September 18, 2005

BALTIMORE - Damon Hollins knows all about paying his dues.

The Devil Rays outfielder didn't get his first callup to the majors until his seventh season in the Braves organization. It was another seven years before he stuck with Tampa Bay.

So Hollins said it was unfortunate Rays prospect Delmon Young, 20, complained to the media he was not called up this season, and B.J. Upton, 21, through his agent, asked for a trade if he is not in Tampa Bay's plans at shortstop.

"I know both of those guys and they're good kids, great kids," Hollins said Saturday. "Both are kind of frustrated. But mouthing off to the paper is not always the thing to do. You could end up eating your words. They're young. It's just a maturing process."

Young batted .336 with 20 home runs in 84 games for Double-A Montgomery and .285 with six home runs in 52 games for Triple-A Durham. Upton hit .303 with 18 home runs in 139 games for Durham and made a staggering 53 errors.

Hollins, 30, said he understands their frustration.

"They want to be in the big leagues," he said. "I was frustrated for a while, and at a time I wanted to voice my opinion. But as I got older I realized there was a different way to go.

"You can only do what you can do. The organization asked them to go out and play their butts off, and that's it. They did their part. The rest is inevitable. They're going to play in the big leagues a long time. You just got to let it happen."

And when it does?

"You pay your dues," Hollins said. "Once you get here, you've got to be ready. That's what it all boils down to."

REBOUND TIME: Doug Waechter lasted just seven batters in his last outing and did not get an out in a 17-3 loss to the Yankees. But today's starter said he doesn't put too much weight on one outing.

"It's not the first time I haven't done well and it won't be the last," he said. "You're going to hit a speed bump now and then. It doesn't mean you stop. You just keep going."

Perhaps, but the right-hander has had a tough go his past three starts; 0-2 with 11 earned runs in 112/3 innings for an 8.48 ERA. Waechter said part of that is the time of year.

"My arm is dragging a little bit," he said. "It's a long season. My body, and everybody's body, is breaking down now. You've just got to piece together the parts that will get you through the last outings, and get you through doing well and not just going out there."

CONSISTENCY: Manager Lou Piniella said one reason his starters recently have bounced back from bad outings is their rotation spot is secure.

"That gives them confidence they can be bad an not be shuffled around," he said.

Tampa Bay has kept the same rotation since the All-Star break.

It has been an interesting transition. Only Mark Hendrickson and Scott Kazmir have been there since the beginning. Hideo Nomo (released), Rob Bell (minors) and Dewon Brazelton (bullpen) have been replaced by Waechter, Casey Fossum and Seth McClung.

"They're our five best pitchers. It starts with that, and they've all competed well," Piniella said. "They've all shown degrees of improvement. They've all stayed healthy and I have confidence in them."

BAD BREAK: McClung said his mother Marky on Friday fractured two vertebrae in her back while swinging a golf club. McClung said Marky had not golfed in "a long time," and he encouraged her to get back in the game.

"I wanted her to do something healthy, and she ends up breaking her back," McClung said.

ET CETERA: Fossum threw a 47-mph Fossum Flip curveball to Javy Lopez. ... Baltimore's Bruce Chen pitched his 20th quality start and lowered his home ERA to 2.86, fourth in the AL. ... Outfielder Jonny Gomes entered Saturday averaging a home run every 14.9 at-bats, 12th all time among rookies.

[Last modified September 18, 2005, 02:15:36]

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