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Overhaul for wreck of a bullpen is still under discussion

The Devil Rays didn't make any moves to bolster their battered bullpen before Saturday night's game started.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 10, 2007


MIAMI - The Devil Rays didn't make any moves to bolster their battered bullpen before Saturday night's game started.

But that doesn't mean they won't before today's game, or by the time they return to Tropicana Field on Tuesday.

Manager Joe Maddon made it clear he'd seen enough after Friday's meltdown, when the Rays turned an 8-2 lead into a 14-8 loss, the second time in four days they'd blown leads of six or more runs.

Maddon spoke with executive vice president Andrew Friedman late Friday, Saturday afternoon and again after Saturday's game "about a whole bunch of different things, " raising the possibility Friedman will decide to make a change.

"Everything's status quo right now, " Maddon said after the game. "Everything's as it was, as it is, for right now."

The Rays have several options at Triple-A Durham, though none that assures improvement, such as familiar faces Seth McClung and Ruddy Lugo, rookie left-hander Jeff Ridgway and veteran newcomers Steve Andrade and Scott Dohmann.

But a more intriguing alternative may be Double-A Montgomery RHP Dale Thayer, who is 4-0, 2.35 with 14 saves in 15 opportunities.

The 26-year-old right-hander, acquired from San Diego in the September 2006 Russell Branyan trade, has 102 saves in four full pro seasons, 27 in both 2005 and 2006, but has never pitched higher than Double A.

TOUGH TIMES: The relievers struggling the most are Tim Corcoran and Chad Orvella, and both had handprints on the two blown games.

Corcoran walked in the go-ahead run in both games and walked seven of the past eight batters he has faced (plus he threw the final two balls to another, though the walk was charged to Brian Stokes after a mid-at-bat change). In his past four outings he has allowed 10 runs on nine hits and nine walks in 71/3 innings. Overall, he has a 6.75 ERA in nine games.

Orvella has been scored on in his past seven outings and overall has allowed 29 of 56 batters to reach. He is 0-2, 14.63 overall and teams are hitting .400 off him.

"I'm seeing them press, " Maddon said. "When they come in out of the bullpen I try to make them both smile or laugh because I don't want to add to their angst right now. It's obvious when they're having such a hard time throwing strikes that they're a little bit uncomfortable or their confidence is down. It's a tough spot to be in."

ON THE OTHER HAND: Utility INF Josh Wilson had the best outing of any Rays reliever, allowing one hit and one walk in the eighth inning Friday against his former Florida teammates, his first pitching appearance since high school.

Other Rays were teasing Wilson, who hit 88 mph and broke Josh Willingham's bat (which he asked for as a souvenir), about whether he could pitch on back-to-back nights, but he's not necessarily eager to go back to the mound given his career 0.00 ERA.

"I'm going to have second thoughts, " he said. "Those zeroes look good."

MISCELLANY: With Dioner Navarro sidelined, Ty Wigginton is ready, willing and eager to be the backup catcher. He last caught in 2001 at Triple A. ... The Rays made an offer to RHP Troy Percival, who signed instead with St. Louis. ... Montgomery LHP James Houser left Saturday's start in the fourth inning having allowed only two hits. ... The Rays have won five of their last eight road games and 11 of 27 overall. They won 20 last year.