tampabay.com

Lugo wants winning plan in place

By DAIMIAN CRISTODERO and MARC TOPKIN
Published July 29, 2006


NEW YORK - In addition to proper terms of the deal, shortstop Julio Lugo said the Devil Rays must show him they have a plan in place to become a winning team if he is to agree to a long-term contract.

Money is important, Lugo said, but it will be easier to strike a deal if he believes in the plan.

"They have to try to be a winning team," he said Friday. "Otherwise, I don't think I want to be - I don't think anybody would want to be - on a losing team or organization for five years. I don't want to do that."

Negotiations are reaching a critical stage given Monday's 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline, and the sides don't appear close to a deal.

Lugo's agent, Dan Lozano, said he will talk with his client this morning and present a counter to the offer executive vice president Andrew Friedman made Thursday.

"We're going to make a final decision (this morning) on what approach we want to take," Lozano said, "and then we'll obviously have discussions with Andrew."

Said Friedman: "I would expect in the next 24 hours for things to crystallize more. But from where we sit right now, it's hard to give much of an update."

It is thought Lugo wants a four- or five-year deal at $8-million to $10-million a season. Asked about Tampa Bay's offer, Lugo said he was not aware of the particulars.

"I just want to stay out of it right now," he said. "I just want to play. When both sides are ready, then I want to get involved. Right now I want to play."

But he wants to play for a winner.

"If they go out there and do the right thing, we can be competitive next year," Lugo said.

Assurances the team will be so, Lozano said, are "absolutely" part of Lugo's decision, "a key part."

Lozano said Friedman has told him what the team hopes to accomplish.

"If everything holds true from what Andrew told me," Lozano said, "I think Julio will like what they are planning on doing."

Kazmir on hold

Manager Joe Maddon said pitching ace Scott Kazmir likely will miss his second consecutive start because of a sore left shoulder. Kazmir missed Friday's start and was scheduled to go Tuesday at home against the Tigers.

"My shoulder feels good," Kazmir said. "It's just precautionary."

It will be the third start Kazmir missed since the All-Star break. The first was for a stiff neck. He has pitched only twice since the July 11 game. His last game was July 23 against the Orioles.

Kazmir said he will not throw today. Still, he said, "I'm not even concerned with it."

What might be turning into a concern, though, is the number of pitches Kazmir threw while warming up for his All-Star Game appearance. Kazmir originally was scheduled to pitch in the fifth inning but didn't get in until the sixth.

At the time, Kazmir said he just kept throwing in the bullpen.

Asked if he believed that had anything to do with Kazmir's injuries, Maddon said, "I've heard about it. Draw your own conclusions. ... I don't know the whole story. I just know that he warmed up awfully long."

DELAYS, DELAYS: The team did not get into their New York hotel Friday morning until 2 a.m. thanks to bad weather in Tampa and a power outage at LaGuardia Airport.

Originally scheduled to depart at 7 p.m. Thursday, the plane did not take off until 10. Team spokesman Chris Costello said that once the plane reached New York airspace, about 12:15 a.m. Friday, it circled for 45 minutes until the airport cleared it to land.

By the time the bus made it to the Rays' midtown hotel, it was 2 a.m.

"We didn't run out of food, the air conditioning worked, and we missed the weather," Tampa Bay's Greg Norton said. "So it really was a smooth flight."

MISCELLANY: The Rays were shut out for the fourth time this season and second time on the road. ... Tampa Bay hadn't been shut out at Yankee Stadium since a 1-0, 12-inning loss June 18, 2003. ... Rays catcher Dioner Navarro played at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 2004, when he played five games for New York.