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Rolls graduates to full-time Devil Ray

By MARC TOPKIN and JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times,
published May 31, 2001


OAKLAND -- The moment passed without ceremony, but Damian Rolls officially became a full-fledged member of the Rays organization Wednesday.

Tuesday was Rolls' 59th day on the major-league roster this season and 90th overall, satisfying the requirements of the Rule 5 draft, under which he was obtained.

Now that Rolls is free of restrictions, the Rays have the option to send him to the minor leagues without having to put him through waivers or offer him back to the Dodgers. But because he has played so well, that's not an issue.

"Initially, he was a Rule 5 guy that the organization didn't want to lose," manager Hal McRae said. "That's how it started out, and possibly after the 60-day period, we'd send him out and let him play. But I think that has changed.

"He still has a ways to go to say that he's a major-league second baseman, but he's played well enough to play, to get some playing time. And he's played well enough to stay here, for now."

Rolls, 23, also has played well enough at second base to alter the Rays' plans.

Russ Johnson is expected to come off the disabled list and play second base today, but he will not regain his job as the everyday second baseman. More likely, McRae will use combinations of Rolls and Johnson at second and Rolls, Johnson and Aubrey Huff at third.

To make room on the roster for Johnson, the Rays may put Felix Martinez, who has been slowed by a sore left knee, on the disabled list.

DRAFT UPDATE: Though the Rays are trying to cut salary at the big-league level, general manager Chuck LaMar said finances won't affect their plans for Tuesday's draft, in which they have the third pick.

"The money for the draft already has been budgeted, and it has nothing to do with what's going on with the major-league club," LaMar said in St. Petersburg. "If we get younger and less expensive at the major-league level and then start cutting corners on signing the best players available in the draft, then I think you could ask, 'What direction are we going?' "

HOME BOY: A native of nearby Sacramento, Greg Vaughn likes showing off for the local folks. The three-run homer Vaughn hit off Cory Lidle in the fourth inning of Tuesday's 5-1 victory was his 28th against the A's, his most against any team. Overall, Vaughn is hitting .283 with 77 RBI in 88 games against Oakland. "I'm not going to try to figure it out," Vaughn said. ... Outfielder Randy Winn, another local product, is on a 14-for-30 hot streak, raising his average to a team-high .349.

REHAB REPORT: Juan Guzman, recovering from June shoulder surgery, threw three scoreless innings in an extended spring game in Clearwater. He threw 42 pitches, reached 87 mph with his fastball and said he was encouraged. ... Outfielder Jose Guillen (sprained knee) is unlikely to be activated when eligible Saturday.

RAYS BITS: Bullpen coach Darren Daulton, reportedly a top candidate to manage the Marlins, said he had not heard from Florida officials. ... Ben Grieve extended his streak of reaching base to 37 games, longest in the majors. ... Reliever Tony Fiore, who refused a Triple-A assignment, signed with Minnesota's Triple-A team. ... Albie Lopez is 0-3 with a 16.33 ERA against Oakland in 2000-01, 0-4, 8.62 in his career.

Today: Rays at Athletics, 3:35

WHERE: Network Associates Coliseum, Oakland.

RADIO: WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).

2001 RESULTS/SCHEDULE: Tuesday Rays 5, A's 1

Wednesday A's 15, Rays 2

Today at Oakland, 3:35

8/31at Trop, 7:15

9/1 at Trop, 4:15

9/2 at Trop, 1:15

9/7 at Oakland, 10:05

9/8 at Oakland, 4:05

9/9 at Oakland, 4:05

WEATHER FORECAST: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees and a low of 57 degrees.

The pitchers

PAUL WILSON: Wilson (2-6, 7.44), who flashes promise but can't get on track, is coming off his worst start (eight runs in four innings Saturday vs. Anaheim). His ERA is highest among qualifying AL pitchers, and he leads the league in runs allowed (55) and hit batters (8).

TIM HUDSON: Hudson, a 20-game winner and Cy Young runner-up last season, is warming up. After going 2-3 with a 6.35 ERA in April, Hudson is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA in May. History shows he should get even better against the Rays: He is 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA in three starts.

You really don't say

A's pitcher Cory Lidle apparently didn't have anything more to say Wednesday, staying out of sight in the Oakland clubhouse. But that didn't stop the Rays from having a little fun at the expense of their ex-teammate, who ruffled a few feathers with his published criticism of the team.

A Rays prankster posted new "quotes" on a wall in the Tampa Bay clubhouse in which Lidle "says" that the Rays' 5-1 victory Tuesday was an "absolute fluke," that "every team gets lucky once in a while" and that Lidle's concentration was disrupted because he "felt the presence of (pitching coach) Bill Fischer in the stadium."

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