tampabay.com

Maddon praises his effort, but Rays give up on Fossum

Fossum outrighted to Triple-A Durham.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 8, 2007


DETROIT - The Devil Rays have seen enough from LHP Casey Fossum.

Fossum's disappointing season came to a premature end Tuesday when he was outrighted to Triple-A Durham and replaced by LHP Jon Switzer.

Fossum, who struggled in the rotation (3-5, 7.89 ERA in 10 starts) and the bullpen (2-3, 7.30 in 30 games), has 72 hours to decide to whether to accept the assignment. Either way, he gets the remainder of his $2.7-million salary and the $300,000 buyout on a 2008 option the Rays will obviously decline.

"Obviously I'm not having the best year coming off surgery," said Fossum, 29. "I've been kind of inconsistent pitching-wise. I just got moved to the bullpen - I guess it's been about two months - and I just never got it going. It's hard to adjust to something you're not used to doing."

Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays appreciated what Fossum did coming back from Sept. 8 shoulder surgery, but obviously (with a .339 opponents average) it wasn't good enough. They want to see what Switzer - and eventually Jeff Ridgway - can do.

"Casey's done everything we've asked of him," Maddon said. "He's a pro. You always knew you'd get a great effort every time he went out there. It just wasn't working this year and we felt at this point we needed to get a look at other people, too. ...

"He's a young man and he's probably going to pitch again in the big leagues."

Switzer, 27, has a dazzling 0.82 ERA in 23 games at Durham, allowing three earned runs in 33 innings. He pitched briefly with the Rays this season, allowing five runs in 12/3 innings, and made 47 appearances over parts of three other big-league seasons (with a 5.32 ERA).

FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE: For a team Maddon expects to be one of the game's most fundamentally sound, the Rays sure seem to make their share of mistakes.

There was another basic blunder Monday when OFs Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton let a fly ball drop between them.

Maddon said it wasn't the kind of mistake to get mad over, or one that should be considered an indication of poor preparation or a lack of fundamentals.

More so, he said it was the product of bad communication and a lack of experience, specifically by Upton, who is new to centerfield. (Crawford thought he heard Upton call for the ball; Upton was yelling where Crawford should throw it.)

Both are subjects that can be addressed conversationally, Maddon said, and as frustrating as it was to watch he considered it a "teachable moment" and he'd expect the next time they'd get it right, specifically that the player with the better angle to make the throw should make the catch.

"Regardless of how many times it's covered from Little League to the point we are today, you've just got to keep saying it until it really sinks in," he said.

"It's an experience thing ... being that B.J.'s new in the middle, the communication with the corner guys is vital, and he's not used to that yet, either. It takes more than a month to really get that solid. When people look at us they see these three wonderful athletes out there (Crawford, Upton and Delmon Young) and the assumption is that they're polished in every regard - they're not. It's up to us to make sure we keep taking them to the next level. And I have patience for that."

CORKED: RHP Tim Corcoran's strained right elbow is healthy, his rehab assignment with Double-A Montgomery ended Tuesday and he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list today.

But there's a catch: To be activated - even to pitch in the minors - he has to first be reinstated to the 40-man roster. (A player on the 60-day disabled list doesn't count against the 40-man roster.)

The Rays have a roster spot with Fossum gone but may need one soon if they sign top draft pick LHP David Price. Another option is to designate Corcoran for assignment - which they seemed poised to do in June when he first complained of elbow problems - and then trade, release or pass him through waivers.

JAKING IT: LHP Jake McGee, another in the Rays' stable of young prospects, was promoted to Double-A Montgomery and will start Thursday. McGee was 5-4, 2.93 with 145 strikeouts (fourth most in all of the minors) in 1162/3 innings.

MISCELLANY: Crawford had another four hits, is 13-for-his-past-19 and is hitting a sizzling .465 (33-for-71) since July 15. ... As teams regularly place players on waivers this time of year, there was talk that C Josh Paul cleared, meaning he could be traded. ... 3B Akinori Iwamura's hitting streak ended at 12 games. ... Top prospect 3B Evan Longoria hit his first homer since moving to Triple-A Durham and is 5-for-16 in five games.