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Bullpen makes pair of substitutions

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays clubhouse swirled with activity Wednesday.

Bags were packed, others unpacked; major-league contracts were signed; lockers were moved; introductions here, congratulations and farewells there ... every corner, it seemed, had something going on.

When the dust settled, the team found itself with two departed pitchers, two new hurlers (one brand new to the organization) and an added member to the 60-day disabled list.

Gone are Travis Phelps and Dan Wheeler, optioned to Triple-A Durham. Wheeler, who was with the Rays for one week, had a 2.25 ERA in three games. Phelps, who became the lowest drafted player (89th round, 1996) to appear on a major-league roster when he was promoted Thursday, had a 3.86 ERA in two appearances.

"It's been fun; I can't complain at all," Phelps said. "I was happy with my first time here. I'd like to think I proved to some people that I belong here."

The Rays promoted left-hander Jeff Wallace from Durham and welcomed righty Brian Rose, claimed off waivers from the Mets on Tuesday. Wallace and Rose will be used as long or middle relievers.

DL ADDITION:The Rays moved pitcher Wilson Alvarez from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list, meaning he won't be available until June 1. The move will not affect Alvarez, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery and is not expected to be ready until late June at the earliest, but it gives Tampa Bay flexibility with the 40-man roster because Alvarez and Juan Guzman, placed on the 60-day DL on Tuesday, are exempt.

TRAVELIN' MAN: Rose showed up with his bags and immediately scanned the clubhouse for his new locker, something he has become accustomed to doing the past few months.

Rose was traded from the Rockies to the Mets on March 26 for pitcher Mark Leiter after Colorado acquired him in July from Boston. With New York, he was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three relief appearances. He threw on the side Monday in preparation for what would have been his first start Thursday.

Instead he was waived by the Mets and claimed by Tampa Bay in a matter of hours.

"I had a message when I got back to the hotel and (Mets general manager) Steve Phillips told me I was released by New York and picked up by Tampa Bay," said Rose, who was with New York in Milwaukee."I got my stuff, flew to New York to get my car, drove home to Massachusetts to get my Florida clothes, T-shirts and shorts, and then headed to St. Petersburg. I'm basically ready to settle down somewhere; I'm tired of moving around so much. Hopefully, this is my final stop."

PENNED UP SOUTHPAWS: Wallace joins Doug Creek as the only left-handers on the team. And they're both coming out of the bullpen, something manager Hal McRae said is very important.

"One left-hander in the pen is like having none," he said. "You really don't accomplish a lot with just one. First of all, when do you use him? How often can you use him? When you call to the bullpen and say, 'Get a lefty up,' you get the same guy every time. He wears himself out getting loose, getting ready to come into the ball game."

STREAKING: Russ Johnson's single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high eight games.

Attendance report

WEDNESDAY'S CROWD: 11,119

TROPICANA FIELD CAPACITY: 44,445

SEASON TOTAL: 196,970

PER-GAME AVERAGE: 17,906

2001 LARGEST CROWD: 41,546

2001 SMALLEST CROWD: 11,056

2000 PER-GAME AVERAGE: 19,368

1999 PER-GAME AVERAGE: 19,296

1998 PER-GAME AVERAGE: 30,939

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