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Camp's stellar outing has a very special audience
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 16, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Devil Rays reliever Shawn Camp said he looked in the stands for wife Heidi, but with a Saturday crowd of 20,002 at Tropicana Field, he could not find her.
Didn't matter, Camp said. Knowing she was there, on her first night out since nearly dying of a blood clot in her lungs, was enough.
"It was amazing," Camp said. "She's battled hard."
Camp gave Heidi a show, pitching the final two innings of a 6-3 victory over the Royals to earn his first save.
"It was great watching Shawn play," Heidi said. "The endorphin rush took the pain away."
Heidi, 24, was rushed to a St. Petersburg hospital March 14 when her two-month pregnancy ended with a burst fallopian tube. She needed to be resuscitated the next day when a blood clot moved to her lungs.
She needed additional surgery for blood clots in her abdomen. So it seemed a bit of an understatement when Heidi said, "It's nice to feel mobile."
For Camp, it was nice to feel success. The right-hander gave up three runs combined in his past two outings, two in two-thirds of an inning in Thursday's loss to the Orioles.
The difference was Camp's effective curveball and ability to get ahead of hitters.
"He looked so on," manager Joe Maddon said, "we couldn't take him out."
"It served two purposes," Camp said of the outing. "It got my confidence back and I was able to save the bullpen."
Doing so well against his old team wasn't bad, either. Doing it in front of Heidi was even better.
ACT II: The Rays guaranteed right-hander Jason Hammel two starts when called up from Triple-A Durham because Mark Hendrickson went on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder stiffness.
The second is today against the Royals.
But with Hendrickson scheduled Monday to throw an extended spring training game, Maddon said Hammel will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip in case Hendrickson, scheduled Saturday to come off the disabled list, has a setback.
As for today's start, Hammel predicted it will be different than his major-league debut, in which he allowed seven runs on eight hits last week in a loss to the Orioles.
"Just slow things down and do what you know how to do," he said. "That was my first taste of the big leagues. Just all-around, it was all excitement. Not making any excuses at all because it was an experience, and I'll hold onto that forever, but everything was moving a little quick."
Hammel said whatever his short-term fate, he already is a better pitcher.
"I've gotten a taste of the best of the best," he said. "I can compete. I know that. It's just consistently doing it. It's all I need to do."
DECISIONS, DECISIONS: Maddon said shortstop Julio Lugo (abdominal strain) likely will not come off the disabled list Wednesday when eligible.
"But it's going to be soon after that," Maddon said.
The delay keeps the Rays from making what is turning into a tough personnel decision to make room on the 25-player roster. Tomas Perez, who has filled in for Lugo, has been a valuable addition and taken time away from Nick Green, who has not played since Wednesday.
"He's done a great job," Maddon said of Perez. "I didn't know he knew how to play the game as god as he's shown. He has tremendous awareness about the game."
MINOR MATTERS: Shortstop B.J. Upton hit a two-out, walkoff grand slam for Durham (8-2) in Friday's 5-4 win over Toledo. ... Rightfielder Delmon Young's hitting streak is 10 games. He is batting .375 (15-for-40) with five RBIs. ... Left-hander Chuck Tiffany allowed one run on five hits in 41/3 innings for Double-A Montgomery with four strikeouts.
MISCELLANY: Camp's save was his third career and first since August 2004 with the Royals. ... The Rays have beaten Kansas City six straight at home. ... Tampa Bay has drawn a majors-high 55 walks, 23 more than last season at this time.