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Kaup excelling where needed

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001


Bakersfield's Nathan Kaup began the season on the move and hasn't stopped yet.

Since being called up from extended spring training seven games into the California League season, the Blaze player hasn't been able to sit still.

In his first 38 games, Kaup started at third base 10 times, played 13 games in leftfield and acted as the designated hitter 13 times. Kaup, whom the Rays signed as a free agent July 27, even squeezed in a couple of innings at catcher May 6 when Danny Massiatte missed the completion of a rain-suspended game to get married.

Kaup also has made quite a move in the league standings since his promotion from Charleston after third baseman Andrew Beinbrink was promoted to Orlando.

Through Monday, Kaup was second in the league with a .372 average. His .669 slugging percentage ranked second, and his 25 extra-base hits tied for third.

This comes on the heels of his first professional season, when he led Hudson Valley with a .331 average and kicked off his minor-league career with a seven-game hitting streak.

NO RUST HERE: Charleston's Evan Rust pitched three innings, allowing five runs on seven hits May 15 against Columbus. Not stellar numbers but important nonetheless.

That appearance marked the first start of his professional career in 39 appearances. As a reliever, the right-hander was 5-2 last season with a 2.89 ERA for Princeton.

His next major milestone came Sunday when he earned his first win as a starter, defeating Capital City to raise his record to 3-1 with six saves and a 4.40 ERA.

COMPLETE JIM: Orlando's Jim Magrane pitched the first complete game in the Rays system this season Friday, holding Huntsville to two runs on five hits and striking out three.

It was the second career complete game for the right-hander, who was 3-3 with a 2.05 ERA and third in the Southern League with 57 innings heading into Tuesday night's scheduled start.

MAKING THE MOST OF A CHANCE: With the promotions of Jason Tyner and Andy Sheets to the Rays, two Durham players made the most of their new opportunities. Mike Caruso moved into the leadoff spot and took over duties at shortstop, and Norm Hutchins moved from right to centerfield. Each used his first game in the new position to record his first three-hit game of the season.

ALL BETTER NOW: Durham activated right-hander Jesus Colome (strained hamstring) from the disabled list. The Bulls also activated Chris Hatcher, out since May 3 with a cracked rib.

STERLING HURLERS: Joe Kennedy is 6-0 with a 0.74 ERA in nine starts between Orlando and Durham. He has 63 strikeouts and eight walks in 602/3 innings. ... Bakersfield's Hans Smith has not allowed an earned run in 201/3 innings and has a streak of 262/3 innings without an earned run dating to last season with Charleston.

BACK ON THE DL: Twelve at-bats, one RBI and five strikeouts after coming off the disabled list with a sore knee, Paul Wilder, the first draft pick in Rays history (29th overall in 1996), is back on the disabled list. The outfielder has yet to play a full season and has not advanced above Class A.

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