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Bruised finger keeps Lugo out
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published July 25, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Julio Lugo insisted on Monday he missed his second straight game as a precaution, even as he displayed a bruised right middle finger that was swollen to double its size and multicolored.
"I'm fine," the Devil Rays shortstop said.
At least he seemed better than how his finger looked.
Lugo said pain was not the issue as he took batting practice and ground balls before Monday's game, but stiffness that did not allow him to fully grip a bat or ball.
He said an X-ray confirmed the finger is not broken and he considers himself day to day.
Lugo said he was injured during Saturday's batting practice, when a ball clipped the finger on his throwing hand while he took grounders. He hit two home runs in the fifth inning but left in the sixth.
"He bumped that the other day on a ground ball," manager Joe Maddon said. "We thought he was going to be fine (Monday). He's still a little bit sore, but I do believe he is going to be out there (today)."
It is unclear how the injury will affect Lugo's trade status.
The nonwaiver trade deadline is Monday, and it is believed the Blue Jays, Mets and Red Sox are interested.
Lugo said if a deal is going to happen, he hopes it is sooner than later.
"If something is going to happen," he said, "then let it happen."
WISHFUL THINKING: Closer Tyler Walker said he fudged a bit when he said his first MRI exam showed only tendinitis in his right elbow.
Walker said Monday the exam actually showed a ligament tear, though it was unclear if it was new or old.
"It was me saying it was tendinitis," he said. "(A tear) wasn't exactly the scenario I wanted."
Walker had Tommy John surgery and is out until next summer. He said he believes the injury was a new one "because I never felt anything like that before."
LEARNING PROCESS: James Shields, who starts tonight, won his first four decisions but lost his past four.
Maddon said it is part of the ups and downs of being a rookie.
"A guy comes up here and he does well relatively quick, and you assume he knows how to do everything well," Maddon said. "There's always something for young people to learn. To expect anybody not to struggle, that's the insane thought."
Maddon said Shields is going to be fine because "he's tough minded." But Maddon also said Shields is working to better his curveball as part as part of an effort to improve his pitch selection.
"I've been working on it pretty hard," Shields said.
TWO VIEWS: The numbers say reliever Edwin Jackson is struggling. But Maddon said the right-hander is improving.
Jackson has allowed 11 earned runs in his past 10 outings and has a 7.17 ERA after Monday's scoreless inning. Still, Maddon said, Jackson is "making some nice progress."
Maddon pointed to two of the three hits Jackson allowed in 12/3 innings Sunday against the Orioles.
"Two ground balls in the hole, a combined maybe 6 inches out of the reach of (third baseman Ty Wigginton)," Maddon said.
"Those aren't bad pitches. When a pitcher throws a ground ball that just misses a defender and it's a single, it looks bad on his record. It's a pretty good pitch."
Jackson said an inconsistent delivery has been his only problem.
"I think my command of pitches is coming around," he said. "I'm working between games on a more consistent delivery."
MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham scored 10 runs in the first inning of Monday's 15-10 win at Toledo. B.J. Upton had two singles in the inning and scored twice. Delmon Young had a run-scoring single and a two-run home run.
MISCELLANY: When catcher Dioner Navarro struck out in the third inning, it ended a streak of seven plate appearances reaching base, one off the team record. ... Angels leftfielder Juan Rivera has nine home runs in his past 17 games. ... Rays reliever Dan Miceli, on the disabled list since May 5 with a right shoulder impingement, began a rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery. ... Billy Ray Cyrus sang as part of a pregame ceremony honoring disabled veterans of the Iraq war.