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Lidle bashes Rays; then Rays bash back

The former Tampa Bay pitcher provides some clubhouse clippings before the Rays beat him and the Athletics 5-1.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2001


The former Tampa Bay pitcher provides some clubhouse clippings before the Rays beat him and the Athletics 5-1.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Former Tampa Bay pitcher Cory Lidle took the first shot, welcoming his ex-teammates with some stinging criticism in the morning paper.

But the Rays had the final word, and the last laugh, beating Lidle and the A's 5-1 Tuesday night.

Greg Vaughn hit a three-run home run -- his eighth in a 67 at-bat span -- off Lidle and Tanyon Sturtze pitched seven solid innings as the Rays scored a rare win against the A's.

As badly as the Rays have been going, manager Hal McRae admitted they could use anything that provides motivation. They may have found some on page 5D of the San Francisco Chronicle, as Lidle ripped into pitching coach Bill Fischer, managing general partner Vince Naimoli, general manager Chuck LaMar and unnamed Rays veterans.

Lidle's comments were posted -- and highlighted -- on a message board in the Tampa Bay clubhouse, and most of the players seemed to take notice.

Dealt to Oakland as a secondary part of the Ben Grieve-Johnny Damon-Roberto Hernandez deal, Lidle talked about the "anger" he felt over how he was treated by the Rays and, as he did in spring training, said he essentially had to ignore what Fischer was telling him.

"It took me saying, "I'm sick and tired of doing exactly what the pitching coach wants,' for me to turn things around and have some halfway decent starts to show other teams what I can do," said Lidle, who is 12-12 in parts of four major-league seasons.

Then, Lidle went after the Rays in broader strokes.

"I don't have a problem with Vince Naimoli, but I don't think he knows baseball," Lidle said. "I thought he hired a bad general manager who doesn't know how to put a team together or hire a staff to help a team win, and he went and got some veteran guys who aren't really leaders. You can write that."

Players seemed both amused and angered by the comments.

"When I start worrying about Cory Lidle, it's time for me to quit," Vaughn said. "I could care less what Cory Lidle said or what anyone says."

Lidle did not appear to have many friends among teammates when he was with the Rays, apparently still ostracized for his decision to be a replacement player during the 1994-95 players strike.

"Pretty good for a scab," Albie Lopez said. "I guess he won't have a Triple-A job with us next season. That's one thing in this game, you don't burn any bridges."

Fischer, who received a Christmas card from Lidle and a photo of his new baby, said he didn't know where the hard feelings came from. "I never knew we had a problem," Fischer said. "It's a mystery to me."

If there were a problem, Fischer said Lidle should have come to him directly. "At least he could say it face-to-face," Fischer said. "If he addressed it like a man, you'd have more respect for people."

Further, Fischer said: "Who made him a baseball expert on how a club should be run?"

Lidle said his comments were taken "a little bit" out of context -- "there was nothing against the players at all" -- but that he didn't regret saying what he said.

The Rays took the game right to Lidle, the first two batters hitting ground balls back at the mound, and Vaughn took things into his own hands in the fourth.

The Rays had two on after a leadoff single and a two-out "intentional" walk to Fred McGriff (after the count was 3-1) when Vaughn crushed Lidle's first pitch about 10 rows deep into the leftfield seats.

It was Vaughn's 12th homer of the season, his eighth in May. It also was just his fourth hit in 25 at-bats with men in scoring position and two outs.

Lidle, 0-4 on the season, went six innings, allowing four runs on five hits.

The Rays added two insurance runs, with Mike DiFelice, the newly anointed starting catcher, scoring both.

Sturtze, winning for the second time in five starts, survived two tough jams, and Travis Phelps recorded his first professional save.

In the fifth, Sturtze loaded the bases with a two-out single and two walks and forced in a run by walking dangerous Jason Giambi, then escaped when Terrence Long grounded out. Sturtze had the bases loaded in the seventh and retired Giambi on a hard liner to left.

Sturtze, who spent five years in the A's minor-league system, had something to prove as well. The Oakland clubhouse staff spelled his name STURTZ on the plate above his locker.

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