tampabay.com

Seo gets advice, time to work out woes

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published May 2, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey had a talk with struggling RHP Jae Seo after his shortest outing of the season Thursday.

Their message: Keep it simple.

Seo lasted just 1 1/3 innings and allowed nine of the 12 batters to reach base, with six scoring. After that start, Seo's 9.51 ERA is the fourth highest among AL starters. Opponents are batting .398 against him, the second-highest average in the AL.

Last season, Seo pitched six or more innings and allowed two or fewer runs in eight of his 16 Tampa Bay starts. This season he hasn't allowed fewer than four runs in his five starts. He leads the majors with 30 runs allowed.

"I just don't see him pitching like he had, " Maddon said. "As far as commitment to the pitch, I think he's been a little confused or trying to do too many things. We just tried to simplify it and just get him back to where he had been."

Maddon said Seo's struggles have been mostly mental. Seo said he has been too upward when driving through to the plate. Hickey said part of the problem has been that the movement of his pitches has been horizontal, allowing hitters more opportunity to get the bat on the ball.

"Basically we're gearing toward more north-south action than side-to-side, with later movement and more depth, " Hickey said. "He hasn't pitched as poorly as indicated."

Regardless of his performance today, Maddon said he won't demote Seo to the bullpen.

"I just don't like jumping on and off bandwagons that quickly, " Maddon said.

ROAD WORKERS: The Rays played 15 of their 25 games in April on the road, and coming off a series win in Oakland won six of those games, a marked improvement from last season's swoon when Tampa Bay won three of its final 26 road games.

"Our biggest difference is just our approach to the day," Maddon said. "Our guys come out and just the way we interact together is totally different than last year. I keep on using the word unity. Maybe it's camaraderie. Whatever you want to call it, it's vital."

SONNY DAYS: Triple-A Durham RHP Andy Sonnanstine was named International League pitcher of the week. He struck out 18 in 14 innings, posting a 1.29 ERA in two starts. His 37 strikeouts lead the IL and he has a 2.70 ERA in five starts.

MISCELLANY: The Rays lost for the 17th times in their past 20 games against the Twins. ... With two hits, Rays 2B B.J. Upton had his fourth straight multihit game and has hit safely in his past six home games. He is hitting .392 against right-handed pitching, best in the AL. ... Twins OF Torii Hunter extended his hitting streak to 16 games. ... Tuesday was the first day attending fans were given All-Star Game ballots. Voting continues at the Trop through June 26. Fans can also vote online at devilrays.com. ... RHP Jon Switzer (left shoulder tendinitis) threw an inning in extended spring training. DH/IB Greg Norton has played the past two days in extended spring training. ... Rays 3B Akinori Iwamura will sign autographs Saturday from 10:30 to noon at Checkers, 8199 U.S. 19 N in Pinellas Park.