tampabay.com

Ailing Lugo still at least a week away from rehab

By MARC TOPKIN
Published April 19, 2006


BOSTON - The Devil Rays may be without shortstop Julio Lugo for another two weeks.

When Lugo was forced to leave the April 3 opener and placed on the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle, both he and the team expected him to be back by tonight, when he is eligible to be reinstated.

But manager Joe Maddon said Lugo is not healthy enough to return and could need another week to 10 days before he would be ready to test in by playing in extended spring training games.

"He'll take that slowly, and when he can participate in a game he shall," Maddon said. "I don't think he's really close to doing that yet. ... That's such a weird injury, you just don't know about that. It's really a strange one."

In Lugo's absence, veteran Tomas Perez has established himself as the starter over Nick Green and has made a solid case to stay as a reserve.

"He's just done a great job," Maddon said. "He's always thinking. I really like that the mental part of his game is high end, and that's what we need more of."

CURT'S WORLD: Last year, Curt Schilling used his weekly radio show to blast former Rays manager Lou Piniella and said the confrontations between the Rays and Red Sox were Piniella's fault.

Now Schilling, who starts tonight, is blaming Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir, claiming Kazmir doesn't know how to pitch inside and wasn't ready to be in the big leagues.

"The two years I've been here, the reason that we've had issues came down really to Kazmir hitting multiple players every time he threw against us," Schilling said Tuesday on his weekly WEEI radio show. "I'm not really sure that any of it was intentional, but he kept hitting players. And when you're a young pitcher and you can't pitch inside, you don't. Because what you end up doing is getting players on your own team hurt. And that's a byproduct of rushing guys to the big leagues."

What Schilling failed to consider, however, were the facts. In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Kazmir hit five batters. In those seven games, Boston pitchers hit 10 Rays.

"We made it clear to them, for the most part, in that context, that we were only throwing at guys on their team because their young pitcher couldn't throw inside," Schilling said. "Obviously he's getting better at it, he's learning. But you don't learn to pitch in the big leagues inside. You learn how to do that in the minor leagues. If you can't do it, don't do it here because you end up getting people hurt."

Kazmir had no comment in response, and Maddon, who has downplayed the issues between the teams and notes that many players and staffers are new, didn't have much to say, either: "I'm not incensed. ... It's very docile. There's no rise within me."

JOE(Y) COOL: Joey Gathright said he had forgiven Boston pitcher Julian Tavarez for punching him in the head during the March 27 spring training confrontation, though he has no plans to talk to him about it.

"It's over with. It happened," Gathright said. "I forgive him because I'm a forgiving person. If he says something to me, I'll say something back. If he apologizes or says anything to me I'll talk to him, but I have no reason to go out and try to fight him. That's stupid. It's baseball, not UFC - Ultimate Fighting (Championship)."

There were no further incidents of any kind in Tuesday's game.

OFF THE MARK: With Mark Hendrickson's return from shoulder stiffness delayed until at least April 27, the Rays are planning to call up a pitcher to start Saturday at Texas. Maddon said Edwin Jackson, who gave up 10 hits in four innings Monday and is 1-1, 4.30 overall, is a possibility.

ON THE MARK: Chad Orvella was brought back from Triple A because he had sufficiently improved in quickening his delivery, which the Rays coaches felt was important.

"I think I made the adjustment," Orvella said. "I'm much quicker to the plate and believe I can control the running game a little better."

Orvella also was recalled so the Rays would have an eighth arm in the bullpen, which Maddon now calls "The Ocho."

MISCELLANY: Though outscored 57-27 through the first five innings, the Rays have outscored opponents 50-27 over the final four. Of their past 45 runs, 30 have come from the seventh on. ... Sean Burroughs is an impressive 11-for-24 against Schilling but doesn't read much into it: "Maybe I've just gotten lucky." ... Orvella is the sixth player added since opening day. ... Ty Wigginton has five homers in his past seven games.