tampabay.com

Jackson brought up to vie for closer job

By MARC TOPKIN
Published September 3, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - The Devil Rays might have a little competition for the closer's job over the season's final month.

Seth McClung has been handling most of the recent duty, going 2-2 with three saves in three chances and compiling a 3.86 ERA, allowing 12 hits and a troubling nine walks in 112/3 innings.

But Edwin Jackson was recalled from Triple A to rejoin the Rays on Saturday, and manager Joe Maddon said he will make it a priority to "get Jack into that role to see what it's going to look like for the rest of this season and going into next year."

In a system yet to be determined, both McClung and Jackson, who was 5-for-6 in save opportunities with a 2.00 ERA in nine games after being sent back to Durham, will get their chances.

"I'm envisioning a situation where maybe Seth has pitched two days in a row and we want to close with Jack that particular night, or we just go back and forth; I'm just not sure on that yet," Maddon said.

"Jack has done a fine job (in Durham), and I'm looking forward to seeing what he looks like out there. We know the stuff is good. It's just a matter of how he handles it emotionally, and if he's in check with that he should have no problems."

PITCHING IN: Jae Seo went through a 50-pitch simulated game with no problems from the strained left groin that landed him on the disabled list and is scheduled to return to the rotation Tuesday. "It feels good," Seo said. "No pain."

Seo's return will push Jason Hammel's next start back to Wednesday, and Maddon said he would use Thursday's off day to re-evaluate and reset the rotation.

Brian Stokes, called up to start today in place of Casey Fossum, had been pitching out of the Durham bullpen, but Maddon said he should be able to work five innings and/or throw about 80 pitches.

"He's done some nice work as a starter," Maddon said. "We wanted to bring him up regardless, and this situation has just arisen."

Stokes was 7-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 23 starts, allowing 122 hits and 44 walks in 1202/3 innings while striking out 94. In six relief appearances since moving to the pen in mid August, he was 0-0, 1.38.

FOSSUM FLIP: Fossum won't pitch again this season as the Rays seek to determine whether he needs surgery or rehab to repair the problem in his left shoulder. The injury costs Fossum the chance not only to improve on his 6-6 record and 5.33 ERA in 25 starts, but to make an additional $800,000. His 2007 base salary would have increased from $2.2-million to $3-million if he had made 30 starts this season.

ABOUT FRIDAY NIGHT: Ty Wigginton didn't just make a dramatic return thanks to US Airways. He also made a bit of history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wigginton was only the second player in the past 15 years to come off the disabled list and have a game-winning pinch-hit in his first game, joining Barry Larkin, who did it for the Reds May 6, 2003, against the Cardinals. ... Rookie Delmon Young was the first rightfielder to throw out Mariners speedster Ichiro Suzuki trying to go from first to third in his six-season big-league career, according to Dave Smith of retrosheet.org.

MINOR MATTERS: The Double-A Montgomery Biscuits celebrated with champagne in the clubhouse Friday after clinching a Southern League playoff berth. Despite a 2-1 loss Saturday, the Biscuits can win the South Division title with one more victory or Jacksonville loss. ... Jeff Niemann had another strong outing Friday, pitching 51/3 scoreless innings to improve his ERA to 2.68, with 84 strikeouts and 29 walks in 771/3 innings. ... Advanced Class A Visalia has also clinched a California League playoff berth and went into play Saturday with a one-game lead over San Jose for the North Division title.

MISCELLANY: The Rays have hit 160 homers, two shy of the team record set during the 2000 season Hit Show. ... Kevin Witt and Wigginton will get most of the playing time at first base with Travis Lee used primarily as a defensive replacement, Maddon said. ... Carl Crawford snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a first-inning infield single, then stole his 46th base, matching his 2005 total. ... The Mariners snapped a 12-game road losing streak that dated to Aug. 2. ... Friday's walkoff win was the Rays' fifth of the season.