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Fresh start brings familiar results for ex-Ray Brazelton
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 16, 2006
Perhaps where he pitched wasn't the problem after all.
Apparently Dewon Brazelton is having the same problems with the Padres he had with the Devil Rays. The right-hander not only fell to 0-2 with Wednesday's loss to the hapless Marlins, he fell to 0-16 in his career on the road.
"I know he's aware of the road streak," Padres manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after the game. "I wish I could give you something that makes sense of it. When you haven't had success, it comes down to confidence. ... It looks like he just loses his focus out there at times, especially with runners on base."
Brazelton was all confidence during an outstanding spring in which he said the pressure and scrutiny he felt with the Rays after being their No. 1 draft pick in 2001 was gone.
But he has struggled in the regular season. He allowed two home runs, two doubles and four walks to the Marlins, who broke a five-game losing streak. In his two starts, he has allowed 17 earned runs and 17 hits in 61/3 innings. His opponents are batting .486. His ERA is 24.16.
Friday, he was demoted to the bullpen.
"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't some concern," Bochy said.
Said Brazelton: "All I need is one good start to turn things around. I'm 0-2. Really, what does that mean? From my point of view, if I was 2-0, I wouldn't be winning the Cy Young, so at 0-2 why should I be totally upset and cash in the season?"
ANOTHER FORMER RAY: The Indians signed Eduardo Perez to be the right-handed half of a first-base platoon with Ben Broussard. So far, so good, as Perez has played five of 11 games and is 3-for-13 with two home runs and five RBIs.
"This is a role I've done the past few years, so there isn't the "wow' factor for me when I'm in the lineup," Perez told Cleveland reporters. "Sometimes you don't play for a while. Sometimes the at-bats come in bunches."
Perez, 36, was one of the most popular Rays in the clubhouse and had an especially good relationship with younger players, acting as coach and mentor. Cleveland signed the free agent for $1.8-million.
"You've got to be ready when you get a chance to play," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "Eduardo is good at keeping ready."
KOTCHMAN UPDATE: Casey Kotchman sat out Wednesday's game after starting the first eight for the Angels, who are confident the former Seminole High star will break out of a slump but thought a couple days off would help.
Los Angeles was off Thursday.
"He's flat-out overanxious," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com. "He has come out of his game a little bit and maybe put more into his swing than normal."
Entering Saturday, Kotchman was batting .207 (6-for-29) with two RBIs. He was a big contributor in Tuesday's comeback win over the Rangers with a run-scoring double in the seventh and a ninth-inning single. Kotchman was lifted for pinch-runner Maicer Izturis, who scored the winning run.
"I was able to square up the pitches a little bit better," he said. "I was letting the ball get deeper in the hitting zone."
"Kotch will be able to hit anybody when he gets settled," Scioscia said. "His swing is not quite where it needs to be."
MESSIN' WITH TEXAS: Angels outfielder Vlad Guerrero has hit in 39 consecutive games against the Rangers, the longest streak since 1969, when, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, such records began to be kept. Guerrero is batting .451 (69-for-153) during the streak with 13 home runs and 30 RBIs. "He's got range with the bat, and that makes him hard to defend," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "He hits the ball in so many places. That's why you don't feel good even when you're up 0-and-2. He feels like anything he hits is going to go through. That's why he's so good."
NOT A SMART CHOICE: The Pirates, for some reason, invited actor Michael Keaton, who grew up in Pittsburgh's suburbs, to throw out the first pitch at Monday's home opener - and he ripped the team to local reporters. "I'd do it, too, if I were a businessman," he said of the Pirates being cheap. "But at some point, you've got to win. I think the fans have been gracious, and maybe not vocal enough, not vociferous enough with their displeasure."
NUMBERS GAME: Ken Griffey has said he is wearing No. 3 instead of 30 to honor his three kids. But the Dayton Daily News reported that when a Cubs bleacher bum harped on it, Griffey turned and said, "This is how many more years I'll be playing. Next year I'll be wearing 2."
Told No. 1 is retired to honor former manager Fred Hutchinson, Griffey said, "Then I'll finish next season with 11/2 and go to one-half with half a season to go."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Tigers are saying new manager Jim Leyland's laid-back approach beats the uptight atmosphere created last season by Alan Trammell. "When you treat guys like they're in Little League, they're not going to rally around you like you might want," third baseman Brandon Inge said. ... Why are the A's struggling? How about Frank Thomas' .182 average through nine games, Esteban Loaiza's 11.42 ERA and 88 mph fastball and Milton Bradley's four RBIs? ... Guess who is noticing Jim Thome's hot start for the White Sox? Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, last season's NL Rookie of the Year and the reason Thome was traded. "I'd be lying if I said I hadn't," said Howard, who, entering Saturday, had one homer and one RBI. ... The Rockies won their first four road games. They did not reach that total in 2005 until road game 23.