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Tyner starts in CF, maybe for good

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 13, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- For Rays manager Hal McRae, the decision was as simple as this: "One guy is struggling; one guy is swinging the bat well."

McRae replaced Gerald Williams with Jason Tyner in centerfield Tuesday night, a move he said is not temporary.

"For now, yeah," McRae said when asked if Tyner was the starter. "That's very vague, but we'll stay with 'for now,' for now."

Tyner took to his new role well, going 1-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. He is hitting .344 in 15 games.

"(McRae) told me I'm going to get some chances to get some more playing time," Tyner said. "He said don't be afraid to make any mistakes, play hard and try to find what my limits are; if I make mistakes, they're going to happen; to go out and play hard."

Williams has been solid defensively but has struggled at the plate as McRae has moved him from leadoff to as far down as No. 7 in the lineup.

Williams is hitting .209 and has a .263 on-base percentage with 42 strikeouts and 13 walks in 58 games. With runners in scoring position, he carries a .154 average with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 52 at-bats.

FEELIN' GOOD: Williams' absence wasn't the only surprise in the lineup. Greg Vaughn was scheduled to be the designated hitter for the Phillies series before playing leftfield this weekend in Florida, where the DH won't be allowed. Instead, he talked McRae into letting him play leftfield Tuesday and today.

"He feels good," McRae said. "I'm sort of on his schedule; he drew this one up. He ... wanted to play more. And he gave me the schedule, and he's played well enough to dictate."

McRae said he thinks Vaughn gets more into the flow of the game when Vaughn is in the field than when he is just batting. He will play Vaughn as long as Vaughn's shoulder and back allow. Vaughn is hitting .397 with eight home runs and 23 RBI in 19 games as a leftfielder.

"I like playing the field," Vaughn said. "I just like it. My thing when I wasn't playing was my shoulder. But we've turned up the (workout) program, and now I feel great. It's actually stronger."

Vaughn collected his 1000th RBI on a seventh-inning single and moved into 68th place all time with his 336th career home run in the fifth.

REHAB UPDATE: Juan Guzman is scheduled to pitch five or six innings in a simulated game Thursday at the Naimoli Complex rather than start for Doulbe-A Orlando as planned.

Trainer Jamie Reed said Guzman has had no physical setbacks but the "baseball people felt he needed one more" before moving into minor-league action.

Wilson Alvarez is scheduled to pitch Thursday for Orlando in his second minor-league start. Shortstop Felix Martinez went 0-for-3 for the O-Rays on Tuesday.

RAYS BITS: Damian Rolls got his first major-league triple. ... Fred McGriff stole his first base of the season and first since Aug. 21. ... The Rays signed five draft picks: third-round selection Chris Flinn; pitcher Eric Beattie from Riverview High in Tampa, a 47th-round selection; 17th-round pick Michael Navaroli; 33rd-round selection Tyson Thompson, and 50th-rounder Nicholas Aiello.

Tonight: Phillies at Rays, 7:15

WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.

TV/RADIO: Ch. 32; WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).

TODAY'S PROMOTION: Website Wednesday -- Fans can check out the Rays official Web site (www.devilray.com) for this week's special.

TICKETS: Available at stadium box office; through Ticketmaster phone and retail outlets; at team stores in WestShore Plaza, Brandon Town Center and BayWalk.

INFO: Call 1-888-FAN-RAYS.

The pitchers

BRYAN REKAR: With seven consecutive losses, Rekar (0-7, 5.33) is within one of the Rays' record. He has pitched well enough to win most of the games, having allowed 46 earned runs in 772/3 innings, but the Rays have scored 3.36 runs per nine innings when he starts.

BRUCE CHEN: Chen (2-3, 4.55) has struck out 26 in his past four starts and has lasted through the fifth inning in all 11starts this season. Opponents are hitting .255 off Chen. He also has allowed 15 home runs, most on the Phillies and sixth most in the National League.

Outta leftfield

During batting practice, a fan asked Rays first-base coach Lee May to sign a bat. May agreed and took the stick from the woman. As he applied his signature, a smile came across his face, and he ran over to show the bat to hitting coach Wade Boggs, who was standing by the cage.

Turns out the bat was one May used during a game. What amused May and Boggs was that May hasn't played since 1982, not to mention the bat was still around and in good condition.

"They made good wood back then," May joked. "It was before the wood shortage."

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