Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Fed-up Rays retool pen
The team "will not accept mediocrity, " Friedman says.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 12, 2007
[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Jason Hammel has been a starter almost his entire pro career, going 4-5, 3.42 at Triple-A Durham this year and, at least initially, will be used in long relief.
ST. PETERSBURG - If they didn't do anything to improve a struggling bullpen that failed horrifically twice last week, Devil Rays officials risked losing more than games.
So when they made changes Monday, recalling Jason Hammel and moving to the verge of signing veteran free agent Jay Witasick, they did so with a message for the rest of a 28-33 team that manager Joe Maddon has lauded for playing hard and remaining resilient through the stunning defeats.
"We will not accept mediocrity, " executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "Joe made that clear after Friday's game, and the front office and the field staff are very much on the same page.
"We've seen a lot of character from this team in their perseverance, and Joe and his staff deserve a lot of credit for that."
Hammel and Witasick, whose deal is expected to be completed after he throws in extended spring training today, will try to bolster a bullpen that has been among the league's worst. Without the contributions of potential All-Star closer Al Reyes, the numbers are abysmal: 9-14, 6.24 ERA, no saves and 202 hits and 85 walks allowed in 1571/3 innings.
They replace Chad Orvella and Tim Corcoran, who were big parts of the problem, going a combined 0-2, 9.24 while allowing 59 baserunners in 251/3 innings. The bullpen shake comes 10 days after the Rays revamped their rotation by adding J.P. Howell and Andy Sonnanstine and dropping Jae Seo and Casey Fossum.
"Obviously we've struggled in the bullpen, and the lack of innings from our starters contributed to that, " Friedman said. "With the changes we made in the rotation and the new additions in our bullpen, we think the changes will benefit us greatly going forward."
Hammel, 24, has been a starter almost his entire pro career, going 4-5, 3.42 at Triple-A Durham this year and, at least initially, will be used in long relief. He was 0-6, 7.77 in two stints with the Rays last season but tended to start strong and get hit harder from the third inning on.
Witasick wi-TASS-ik, 34, cleared waivers Monday after being designated for assignment last week by the Athletics. He hadn't pitched that poorly, going 1-0, 3.60, allowing 14 hits and nine walks in 15 innings, but he wasn't pitching often out of a successful A's pen. His agent asked the A's to allow him to move on. They did and will pay the bulk of his $1.5-million salary, with the Rays responsible for about $228, 000 (a prorated share of the minimum).
Assuming he gets through today's workout session, Witasick is expected to have the opportunity to work in key late-inning situations. He has a career record of 32-41 with five saves and a 4.59 ERA and has playoff and World Series experience.
Witasick would have to be added to the 40-man roster, and the Rays most likely will make room by designating Corcoran for assignment. They hope Orvella will benefit from more Triple-A experience.
Other moves Monday:
- Right-hander Shinji Mori, unable to complete a nonsurgical recovery from a spring 2006 shoulder injury, was released from his minor-league contract without ever pitching in a game. The Rays invested more than $2-million in Mori, who was acquired from Japan's Seibu Lions.
- Seo, dumped June 2 after going 3-4, 8.12 in 11 games, accepted an outright assignment to Durham and will join the remixed Bulls rotation. By doing so, he gets the remainder of his $1.2-million salary.