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For their own good
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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Season quickly becoming no fun for Baldelli
By DIAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published August 6, 2006
ST. PETERSBURG - Rocco Baldelli said he is taking his latest injury problems in stride. Still, he added, "It's not fun."
The Devil Rays centerfielder missed his third straight game Saturday with a sore right hamstring, and manager Joe Maddon, who on Friday was fairly optimistic about his return, said Baldelli likely won't play until Monday, other than as a pinch-hitter.
"He's more available than he was (Friday)," Maddon said. "I just can't let him get out there and run or play defense."
Hamstring problems have dogged Baldelli all season.
He missed the first two months with a sore left hamstring, but admitted both hamstrings hurt during the spring. He missed all of 2005 because of left knee and right elbow surgeries.
He said last season's inactivity might have caused this season's problems.
"You can try to stay in shape all you want, but until you play an entire season on the major-league level, it's not an easy thing to do," he said. "It's going to put a hurt on your body one way or another, so it may have something to do with it."
He said the series of injuries is likely a coincidence.
"I don't see a common denominator that has caused all these injuries," he said. "I know a couple have been random, bad luck kinds of things. My knee and elbow were serious injuries that came out of nowhere. Hopefully I can avoid that in the future."
STEADY AS HE GOES: Josh Paul said he made a subtle change in his batting stance, and Maddon said that was one reason he let his right-handed-hitting catcher bat against right-hander Craig Hansen in the eighth. "He's getting a better look at the ball," Maddon said.
Paul, whose two-run double past rightfielder Gabe Kapler was the winner, said he is keeping his head steadier.
"I'm trying to be as generic as I can with my stance and let my hands do the work," Paul said. "I got a slider up and I stayed on it."
Still, considering Maddon on Friday said he wanted to play his catchers so they hit against opposite-throwing pitchers, it seemed a natural place to use switch-hitting Dioner Navarro as a pinch-hitter.
But with Paul on his way to a season-high three hits and three RBIs, Maddon showed confidence.
"You don't think of that when you go up to the plate," Paul said. "If you're looking over your shoulder, you're already beat."
Paul said he didn't notice Kapler creeping in for a possible play at the plate.
"If I could hit it where they weren't, I'd be hitting 1.000," he said. "I was just trying to get a hit."
STARTING OVER: J.P. Howell admitted he pitched Tuesday with a monkey on his back. The left-hander said he wanted so badly to prove the Rays made the right choice acquiring him from the Royals in the Joey Gathright trade, he took himself out of his game.
The result: Howell, in his first start after his callup from Triple-A Durham, allowed the Tigers six runs on nine hits in 32/3 innings.
It is a lesson he said he will take into today's start against the Red Sox.
"The only reason I got hit last time was because I was up," Howell said of his pitches. "But the reasons I was up were not good. I was focused on the other stuff rather than throwing the ball to the glove. I complicated things and it was totally the wrong thing.
"Now I'm not out to prove anything other than I can win."
MISCELLANY: Maddon said Dan Miceli, rehabbing a shoulder injury with Double-A Montgomery, has a good chance of rejoining the Rays on the upcoming road trip. ... B.J. Upton made his first two errors as the Rays' third baseman. ... Starter Casey Fossum had 35 walks and 29 strikeouts through the first three months of the season. Since then, he has 13 walks and 40 strikeouts. ... Manny Ramirez, who has 39 home runs against the Rays, has hit in 21 straight games, the majors' longest current streak. ... Claudia Williams, daughter of the late Ted Williams, toured the Tropicana Field museum dedicated to her father.