tampabay.com

Lugo will try to continue rebound in minors

The Rays will announce his replacement today, with the likely candidate RHP Chad Orvella.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published May 7, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - RHP Ruddy Lugo pumped his fist after striking out the side to end the ninth inning Sunday, his second straight solid outing. But a few minutes later, the Rays were waving goodbye, shipping the reliever to Triple-A Durham even though it appeared he'd come out of his season-long funk.

"It's a small sample and we're going by basically spring training to this point, " manager Joe Maddon said. "We just want him to go back and work on fastball command and overall command of all pitches and pounding the strike zone more consistently. That's primarily it. He had a nice day, and that makes it even more difficult to have to tell him now."

The Rays will announce his replacement today, with the likely candidate RHP Chad Orvella, who is 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA and five saves, with 21 strikeouts and seven walks in 161/3 innings. Another possibility is RHP Tim Corcoran, who is 1-1, 2.61.

It was not surprising that the Rays made a change given the overall struggles of the bullpen, but Lugo said it caught him by surprise given his sudden turnaround. Overall, he was 2-0 with a 9.28 ERA and allowed 30 of 61 batters to reach, with a .362 opponents average.

"Definitely, especially the way I turned it around a little bit with a couple scoreless innings, but they know best so ... " Lugo said. "I'm just trying to be a man about it, go down there and keep working."

PUMPED UP: Lugo said he was particularly animated after striking out Nick Swisher to start the ninth for a reason - the way Swisher admired his home run off Edwin Jackson: "I did that because he pimped one of Jackson's home runs."

TOUGH TURF: Carl Crawford said the new FieldTurf at the Trop has made his legs sore, which is why he asked to be the DH on Sunday, the first game he hasn't started in leftfield.

"My legs have been bothering me a lot because of the turf, " Crawford said. "We've been on it a lot, here and in Minnesota for four days. It's too thick. We need to get a boat show or something in here to flatten it down. This turf hurts real bad. The old turf felt better. I'm just sore."

TALBOT TAILSPIN: RHP Mitch Talbot, considered one of the Rays' most advanced starting prospects, had a brutal outing for Triple-A Durham on Saturday, allowing all 10 batters he faced to reach base. Since throwing six no-hit innings in his season debut, Talbot has allowed 28 runs on 36 hits and 12 walks in 19 innings. Overall, he is 1-4, 10.08. ... On Sunday, Jason Hammel held Richmond to two hits over six innings but the Bulls lost 2-0.

MISCELLANY: B.J. Upton went 1-for-4 to extend his season-high hitting streak to nine games, retain the AL batting lead at .371 and match Ty Wigginton for the team home run lead with six. ... The Rays have been outscored 29-4 in first innings. ... Top Rays officials will be in Venezuela today to mark the opening of the team's academy. ... INF Greg Norton went 1-for-5 Sunday as he returned to the lineup at Double-A Montgomery to continue his rehab from right knee surgery; he was scratched Saturday due to slight soreness.