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After talk, Williams returns to lineup

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001


BOSTON -- Game-time temperature was 42 degrees Sunday, but there was a thaw in the standoff between Rays manager Larry Rothschild and centerfielder Gerald Williams.

"I met with him and it's time for him to play," Rothschild said.

Rothschild benched Williams for two games after an incident in the dugout during Thursday's game, when Williams objected to Rothschild's decision to pinch hit for him. Rothschild said Williams would stay on the bench until he responded to the manager's request for a meeting.

Neither would say what was discussed during Sunday's session or who initiated the meeting, which took place in Rothschild's office and lasted about 5-10 minutes.

But apparently it was enough for Rothschild to return Williams to his place at the top of the order and to say the episode was over.

"I would hope so," Rothschild said. "From my side it is."

Williams, as he has for three days, limited his comments to a single phrase: "I support the manager's decision." Williams went 0-for-4.

MORE PEDRO: The 16-strikeout game for Pedro Martinez marked the 43rd time in 92 starts for Boston that he fanned 10 or more. In seven starts against the Rays, he is 4-2 with a 1.67 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 53 innings. "I felt really good, really comfortable," Martinez said. ... Aside from some lusty boos and chants of "Gerald" "Gerald", there were no apparent flare-ups from the Aug. 29 incident when Williams charged the mound after being hit by Martinez, leading to two brawls and eight ejections. "It's all buried," Martinez said. "I'm pretty sure they realize that."

ALL FOR PAUL: Coaches and managers debate whether hitters or pitchers have the advantage when they square off in consecutive outings. Tampa Bay's Paul Wilson, who tonight faces Toronto for the second time in five days, plans to make use of the knowledge he gained Wednesday, when he allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) in five-plus innings.

"It's nice because it's fresh in your mind, what you had success with and what you didn't," Wilson said. "I've been looking at tape for the last two days and I'll have a better idea of what my game plan has to be. ... I'm not going to change anything, but I might have a little different approach."

SIGN OF THE TIMES: With pre-game workouts limited due to a morning rain, several Rays took time to venture inside the Fenway Park scoreboard, stepping into a 6- by 60-foot "room" that is something of a historical landmark. The walls are adorned with signatures of players from over the years, and a new one was added Sunday -- that of Rays hitting coach and former Red Sox great Wade Boggs. In 11 years with Boston, Boggs said he never went in. "This is wild," he said.

LET'S PLAY THREE: The Rays take the field for their third "opening day" tonight in Toronto. Under new ownership, the Jays have declared this a "Guaranteed Win Night," which means if the Jays don't win, all fans get a ticket to another game. Besides the usual pomp and circumstance, there will be $1 hot dogs, a commemorative stamp and, to mark their 25th season, an appearance by original Jay Doug Ault, who hit two homers in their first game, April 7, 1977.

MINOR MATTERS: Matt White, plagued by control problems all spring, had a rough first start for Triple-A Durham, walking one, hitting two and throwing two wild pitches while giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) in four innings. ... Josh Hamilton is 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts in three games for Double-A Orlando.

RAYS BITS: The Rays went a team-record 112/3 innings without a hit -- the final 62/3 Saturday and the first five Sunday. ... The 42-degree game-time temperature matched Saturday's as the Rays' record low.

Tonight: Rays at Blue Jays, 7:05

WHERE: SkyDome.

TV/RADIO: Ch. 32; WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).

RAYS IN TORONTO IN 2000

July 19: Lost 5-2. WP -- Escobar. LP -- Lopez

July 20: Lost 6-5. WP -- Quantrill. LP -- White

Sept. 22: Won 3-2. WP -- Lidle. LP -- Frascatore

Sept. 23: Lost 7-6. WP -- Koch. LP -- Enders

Sept. 24: W 6-0. WP -- Harper. LP -- Trachsel

Sept. 25: W 5-1. WP -- Wilson. LP -- Loaiza

The pitchers

PAUL WILSON: Wilson's last trip to Toronto was memorable as he returned to the majors by pitching seven shutout innings Sept. 25. Wilson was inconsistent Wednesday, allowing seven hits and four runs (three earned) in five-plus innings.

JOEY HAMILTON: Hamilton started against the Rays on Wednesday as well, allowing seven hits and five runs (one earned) in five innings. Overall, he is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay, allowing 31 baserunners in 162/3 innings.

You don't say

After freezing through Saturday night's game in the heaterless bullpen, bullpen coach Terry Collins was walking through the clubhouse Sunday morning wearing gloves and his heavy jacket snapped to the top. "I'm trying to get as much warmth as I can now and save it up," Collins said.

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