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Tyner's job may be in jeopardy

By JOHN ROMANO and MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 8, 2001


TORONTO -- Jason Tyner has six hits in his past two starts. He also has the endorsement of manager Hal McRae, who said he liked Tyner's style. What Tyner does not have is job security.

Tyner, 24, was called up from Triple-A Durham when Jose Guillen went on the disabled list two weeks ago. Guillen's return date is drawing near, so Tyner's status with the club is somewhat tenuous.

Tyner can be returned to the minors without having to clear waivers. That makes him expendable, even if his play has been exceptional.

"He was impressive today. The way he swung the bat was impressive," McRae said after Tyner had three singles, a walk and two runs scored Thursday. "I'd like to see him play more. He's my kind of player. He's fast, and I think we need fast players, athletic players for our surface. He fits that mold."

Having said that, McRae acknowledged it would be difficult to work Tyner into any kind of outfield rotation at this time.

Tyner, acquired from the Mets in July, said he is not obsessing about his role. He said he spent too much time doing that during his rookie season and he thought it detracted from his play.

"What happens is out of my control. If they want to send me down, all I can do is make it a hard decision for them," said Tyner, who is 7-for-17 with two walks in his four starts. "I spent too much time thinking about that last year. I caught myself playing not to fail, playing not to mess up. Now I'm just playing with confidence and taking advantage of every opportunity they give me."

NOT THIS AGAIN: Just when it looked like the season could not get worse, interleague play begins today. And if you think the Rays struggle against the American League, you should see them against the National League.

Tampa Bay's all-time winning percentage against AL teams is .404. Against the NL, it is .346.

Because the next two series -- against the Mets and Phillies -- are at Tropicana Field, the designated hitter rule will be used. However, McRae said, pitchers will begin taking batting practice today to prepare for the trip to Florida next week.

Not all the Rays have struggled in interleague play. Albie Lopez is 6-1 with a 4.34 ERA. Fred McGriff is hitting .308 with 11 home runs, and John Flaherty is hitting .338.

RETURN TO SENDER?: The Marlins have offered former Rays manager Larry Rothschild a job as a pitching consultant, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale. Rothschild would be a roving instructor, working with minor-leaguers and the major-league staff.

Rothschild was Florida's pitching coach when the Marlins won the World Series in 1997, months before he became the Rays manager.

WELCOME BACK: The face is familiar. The name rings a bell. But it is the won-loss record that makes Steve Trachsel so recognizable.

Trachsel, who went 6-10 with the Rays in 2000, returns from the Mets' Triple-A team today to face the Rays. Trachsel was sent to Norfolk two weeks ago with a 1-6 record and an 8.24 ERA.

Trachsel made three starts in the minors, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA, including a seven-inning no-hitter. He said the time in the minors helped him regain control of his fastball.

"I'm glad it all worked out," Trachsel told Newsday. "Everything was positive. Obviously, I wish it didn't have to happen in the first place. But as bad as it could have been, it was pretty good. I actually had fun I wasn't expecting."

DRAFT UPDATE: Scouting director Dan Jennings and Bo McKinnis, the agent for top draft pick Dewon Brazelton, "touched base" and likely will begin formal negotiations early next week.

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