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Pain, aggravation worsen for Vaughn

By MIKE READLING and MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- About an hour before game time Thursday, Greg Vaughn sat in front of his locker in the Devil Rays clubhouse, his right hamstring throbbing, his frustration mounting and his expected return to the lineup uncertain.

Vaughn, scheduled to start at designated hitter, was a late scratch after his sore right hamstring prevented him from taking batting practice.

Vaughn aggravated the injury running out an infield hit in the ninth inning Wednesday. He thought he could play Thursday; now he isn't sure if he will need a few days of rest or a few weeks on the disabled list.

"It's too frustrating to go through this," Vaughn said. "I've got to do something. If anybody's got some magic something, give it to me. Snake oil, monkey oil, something. This is too frustrating."

Vaughn strained his hamstring May 26 running out a ground ball and had started seven of the 17 games since. He was the designated hitter during the weekend series against Florida, but manager Larry Rothschild put him back in leftfield Tuesday and Wednesday, with Bubba Trammell serving as designated hitter.

"I don't want to take any chances with him," Rothschild said. "We tried not to, but things kept popping up, partly because of the way he plays every day. Hopefully he's going to be okay."

GUZMAN SET BACK: Juan Guzman was removed from what was supposed to be his final minor-league rehab start Thursday at Durham with stiffness in his shoulder, making his return before the All-Star break questionable.

Guzman, who has been recovering from tendinitis in his throwing shoulder since April 8, pitched 32/3 innings, giving up two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out two.

JOIN THE TEAM: Jace Brewer, the Rays' fifth-round pick from last week's amateur draft, is expected to be at Tropicana Field today to sign his contract, a major-league deal worth about $1.3-million.

The Rays were in negotiations late Wednesday with first-round pick Rocco Baldelli on a deal worth about $2.2-million. Baldelli led his team to the state baseball title Wednesday night, hitting two home runs and a double and driving in five runs.

SIMULATED ACTION: Tony Saunders' attempt to come back from a broken arm sustained while throwing a pitch last season will continue Sunday when he throws in a simulated game.

Saunders, who threw for 15 minutes in the bullpen Thursday, said he expects to throw about 30 pitches, cool off a little and come back for 25-30 more.

"This is my last step before throwing in a game," he said. "It all depends on what happens Sunday. That will tell a lot. How I feel after I sit down and then warm back up, how quickly I recover and get back to my usual routine. If it goes well, I don't see what else could hold me back."

Saunders came off the field so pumped about his bullpen outing, he told Rothschild he was ready to pitch today.

"He's ready to pitch in a simulated game," Rothschild said. "There's a lot of hurdles left to be jumped over."

BACK TO LIVE ACTION: Dave Eiland threw 65 pitches in the bullpen and is expected to throw live batting practice this weekend.

Eiland, out since May 24 with a pinched bursa sac in his left hip, said this could be the final step before pitching in a game.

"It feels good," he said. "I can work on all my pitches and concentrate on that, as opposed to being afraid of the pain. I can get back to focusing on pitching, which is a good thing."

TIME CHANGE: Saturday's game was changed a while ago to 1:15. But season ticket holders' tickets still have the originally scheduled time of 4:15 printed on them.

Devil Rays officials have been calling season ticket holders to remind them of the change.

FOOD DRIVE: The Devil Rays Wives second canned food drive will be Saturday. Fans bringing five or more canned or non-perishable food items will receive a voucher for a free upper general admission ticket for any home game this season. The food items will benefit the St. Petersburg Free Clinic.

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