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White at least happy he has an answer

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 2, 2001


SEATTLE -- Matt White is disappointed about missing the rest of the season and sore from the surgery on his right shoulder, but more than anything else Friday he was relieved.

Relieved to know there was a physical reason he was struggling so much on the mound starting in spring training, and even more relieved to know the problem has been fixed and that he should be good to go next season.

"I was telling myself the right things to do and going about it the right way, but physically I was not able to do it," White said from Birmingham, Ala., where he was operated on Thursday. "My arm would not allow me to do it. And I think that's how my mechanics got a little changed because I was compensating.

"It's a relief to me because I was trying to get better and to pitch better. I tried everything."

White said Dr. James Andrews told him after the arthroscopic procedure to repair damage to the rotator cuff that the shoulder looked strong. "They didn't have to do as much as they thought they'd have to do," White said.

The 22-year-old right-hander said he first became concerned about discomfort in his shoulder around the start of the season at Triple-A Durham. He first thought it was a recurrence of tendinitis, which had relegated him to inactive duty for the U.S. Olympic team.

"I had an MRI and they said there was nothing structurally wrong," White said. "But it got to the point where it hurt more and more and I thought I better do something about it."

White will begin rehabilitation on Monday at the minor-league complex in St. Petersburg, hoping to be throwing next spring.

Tampa Bay veterans Wilson Alvarez and Juan Guzman have missed about a year since similar surgeries, but the Rays don't expect White to be out that long.

"Because of his youth, because of his work ethic and because the extent of his surgery was not as severe as either (Alvarez or Guzman), we expect at this time next year he'll be pitching successfully and pitching pain-free," Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said.

WILTED ROSE: Deciding they'd rather keep Dan Wheeler and Travis Phelps on the big-league team, the Rays sent Brian Rose to Triple A to clear a roster spot for Joe Kennedy. Rose cleared waivers, then was taken off the 40-man roster and outrighted to Durham. Rose was 0-2 with an 8.85 ERA in seven games after being claimed off waivers from the Mets.

MAY DAY: May wasn't just the Rays worst month in terms of overall record (7-20) and fewest wins. The team 6.51 ERA also was a club record high.

STREAKING: Manager Hal McRae said he was more concerned with getting rest for Ben Grieve than preserving his streak of reaching base in 37 consecutive games when he took him out of Thursday's game after three hitless at-bats. "I wasn't even thinking about it," McRae said. "We'd gotten our brains beat in two days in a row, he'd been standing out there a long time and I wanted to get him off the field."

RAYS BITS: Jose Guillen (sprained left knee) is eligible to come off the disabled today, but won't. He has not started playing in minor-league games. ... John Flaherty, displaced by Mike DiFelice as the starter, will catch Tanyon Sturtze on Sunday and struggling ace Albie Lopez on Tuesday in Toronto. ... The Rays, Pirates and Braves are the only teams that have not won three consecutive games.

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