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Wilson adjusts to pitching in AL

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- The glaring difference is the power.

Everywhere Paul Wilson looks, from the leadoff hitter to No. 9, there are power-heavy lineups in the American League.

That's been the biggest adjustment for Wilson, an NL pitcher until he was traded to the Rays in July.

"The offense is just geared up a little bit different," said Wilson, who spent more than five seasons in the Mets organization. "There are a lot of great lineups in this league, including our own."

Coming off what coaches deemed one of his best performances of the season, Wilson will face one of those great lineups when he makes his seventh start of the season against the Indians today.

"I want to focus on what I was doing my last time and try to get ahead, challenge guys early and open up the strike zone," the right-hander said.

Wilson gave up four runs in the first two innings against Baltimore on Monday, but settled down and allowed just one unearned run in the next 41/3 innings. He took the loss.

"If I can throw the fastball where I want to early, I think we'll have some good success with my breaking balls and my changeups during the game," said Wilson, who struck out four and walked four against the Orioles. "It's tough to go to your off-speed when your constantly behind in the count. You've got to make better pitches."

SETTLING IN: A day off Thursday provided Brian Rose a chance to finally search for a permanent place to live. The pitcher has called the Renaissance Vinoy Resort since being acquired off waivers April 24.

"I got to look around St. Pete a little bit and found me a place," he said. "I rented a condo from some real-estate agent. I don't even know where it is."

Rose does know where he fits in with the Rays -- in the bullpen.

He had a 1.93 ERA, three strikeouts and a walk in 42/3 innings in relief before relieving starter Albie Lopez in the sixth inning Friday.

"As long as I can go out there and pitch, I'm happy," he said. "It doesn't matter when I go in there. If I don't get in, that means our starters are doing a great job, so I can't really complain about that."

TIE SCORE: With his two-run homer in the third inning, Cleveland leftfielder Ellis Burks added Tropicana Field to an impressive list.

Burks has homered in 38 ballparks, which ties him with Rays first baseman Fred McGriff for the major-league record.

McGriff added Comerica Park in Detroit to his list April 28. After stints with Colorado and San Francisco, Burks returned to the American League this season for the first time since 1993, meaning he can add Safeco Field in Seattle.

RAYS ABOUT TOWN: Catcher John Flaherty, Wilson and Rays officials will present the Southeast Tampa Little League with a $1,500 check and supplies to cover what was stolen from the league's concession area last week. ... Pitcher Ryan Rupe will sign autographs at 11 a.m. at Walker Ford in Clearwater. Third baseman Aubrey Huff will sign autographs at 11:30 a.m. at Lowe's on Waters Avenue in Tampa.

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