tampabay.com

'Tough to watch,' Reyes says of collapse

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published June 7, 2007


TORONTO -- From his seat in the Devil Rays bullpen, Tampa Bay closer Al Reyes could only watch as his fellow relievers blew a five-run ninth-inning lead in a 12-11 loss to Toronto on Tuesday.

"It was tough to watch," Reyes said. "It happened so quickly. You're up five runs and then all of a sudden things changed."

Rays manager Joe Maddon has been especially careful with Reyes' twice surgically reconstructed right elbow. Three straight days of work is the limit for Reyes, who has converted all 14 save opportunities. But without Reyes, even Maddon admits it puts the rest of his relievers "in uncomfortable positions."

Reyes said he's "very close" to being able to throw four days in a row. Those decisions are also based on pitch count. But despite the fact that Reyes threw 46 combined pitches over the three days leading up to Tuesday, he said he felt good enough to pitch.

"I respect their decisions when they tell me, 'You're off today,'" Reyes said. "I don't push it. I feel good so far. The way my arm has been after missing the whole year has been good."

WEDNESDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Asked why he took reliever Gary Glover out of Tuesday's game after the right-hander retired the side with ease in the eighth, Maddon said he wanted to get others -- namely Chad Orvella -- work to boost their workload and confidence.

Orvella walked the leadoff batter in the ninth, then allowed back-to-back doubles.

"It's easy to second-guess yourself, but I didn't," Maddon said. "It was something I felt was the right thing to do at the moment and I still feel was the right thing to do. You're trying to win as many games as you can during the course of the year and everybody's got to take part."

DUKES SITS: Maddon sat CF Elijah Dukes after an 0-for-6 night Tuesday that dropped the rookie's batting average to .200.

"I just though he was pressing a little bit, " said Maddon, who said Dukes will return today. "I just thought after having spoken to him it would be better to just let him chill (Wednesday)."

Maddon also said outfield coach George Hendrick would talk to Dukes about chasing two balls at half-speed during the ninth inning Tuesday.

ADJUSTMENT TIME: Maddon has used former starter Casey Fossum out of the bullpen the past three days, but the LHP said he felt most comfortable in his outing Wednesday, when he pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings.

"I just got moved to the bullpen and I've done it before, but it's been a while and I just forgot how quickly the game is and how much adrenaline you get when you go out there," Fossum said. "I just had to slow things down a little bit."

Maddon said before the game that he would likely give Fossum a day off if he used him three straight days.

MISCELLANY: Injured CF Rocco Baldelli (left hamstring strain) could play in an extended spring training game Saturday. ... Rays and Jays pitchers competed in a simulated batting practice game before Wednesday's game. The Rays won 27-25. ... Over the first two games of this series Rays LF Carl Crawford is batting .455 (5-for-11) with four runs and seven RBIs. ... Each of LHP Scott Kazmir's four wins have come on the road.