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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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It could have been worse: Baldelli okay
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published August 2, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Rocco Baldelli admitted he was scared.
An inside fastball from reliever Jason Grilli had smacked the Devil Rays centerfielder in the right biceps, and Baldelli said it took five minutes after he left the game for the feeling to return.
The sixth-inning drama Tuesday night was the most notable moment in Tampa Bay's otherwise forgettable 10-4 loss to the Tigers at Tropicana Field. And until manager Joe Maddon said Baldelli had only a bruise and likely will play tonight, its most worrisome.
"It was one of those things," Maddon said, "that was more scary than anything."
That is because Baldelli is just starting to round into form after missing the first two months of the season with a strained hamstring and all of 2005 because of surgery on his left knee and Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
In fact, Baldelli said the ball hit a nerve that was moved during the operation.
"As soon as it hit it, it just went numb," Baldelli said. "Real scary not being able to feel it."
For the Rays (44-63), the game was just real disappointing.
Oh, B.J. Upton had two hits and made a nice play at third. And Ben Zobrist, in his first major-league game, handled all five of his chances at short.
But pitcher J.P. Howell, also called up from Triple-A Durham, was no match for the Tigers, who chased him after 32/3 innings in which he allowed six runs on nine hits.
Howell threw 43 of his 81 pitches in the second inning as Detroit, on its way to a majors-best 71st victory, scored five runs on six hits.
There is no shame in losing to the AL Central leaders, especially when they get 18 hits and four home runs and shortstop Carlos Guillen becomes the 10th Tigers player and third this season in the majors to hit for the cycle.
But Howell, 23, said he had other considerations, such as wanting to prove to the Rays they were right in acquiring him from the Royals in the Joey Gathright trade.
"I was pitching to prove the trade was right," he said.
"I was nervous and pitching out of my rhythm."
That is particularly dangerous for Howell, whose fastball tops out at about 85 mph. To compensate, the left-hander's other pitches must be precise.
But Howell's fastball, curve and changup were up, and the Tigers teed off and took a 5-2 lead in a second inning that included Guillen's run-scoring triple and Craig Monroe's two-run single.
"It's not acceptable for me or the team," Howell said. "I've got to get the ball down. It's something I do well. It's how I got here."
He'll have another chance Sunday against the Red Sox.
"He has to command both sides of the plate with all three pitches," pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "He's not going to overpower people, so he has to pitch."
Like Detroit's Justin Verlander. The rookie right-hander, 7-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his past nine starts, allowed three runs in five innings with four strikeouts for his majors-high 14th win.
He had a lot more help. Sean Casey homered in his first game since being acquired from the Pirates, and Brent Clevlen hit his first two major-league homers.
Baldelli just got hit and left the field stiff-armed and flexing his fingers.
"It's just a little sore," he said. "It feels fine."