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Yan yearns for return to roster

By MIKE READLING

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 7, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays manager Hal McRae called it a chance to "get rid of some rust," but pitcher Esteban Yan sees tonight's appearance in Orlando as another couple of days he's not with his team, despite the fact he feels fine.

Yan, recovering from inflammation in his throwing shoulder, will make at least one more appearance in a minor-league game before rejoining the Rays in his closing role.

The 27-year-old right-hander threw 21 pitches in one inning Thursday night for Double-A Orlando, allowing one run on two hits, striking out two and throwing a wild pitch.

He reported no pain Friday and insisted, as he has since June 22 when he was placed on the disabled list, that he will be ready to return when he is eligible today. McRae and other Rays officials, however, want to see Yan pitch one more time. He is scheduled to pitch today against Jacksonville. If everything goes well he could be on the Rays roster Thursday when the they open in Montreal after the All-Star break.

"I just know that I'm going to pitch tomorrow," Yan said. "I don't know what is going to happen after that. I feel no pain. Everything feels fine."

Yan is 2-3 with eight saves. GOOD GUZ: Juan Guzman made his second rehab start with Orlando on Friday. In seven innings he allowed one run on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Guzman threw 96 pitches and left with a 2-1 lead.

BACK IN ACTION: Fred McGriff started at first base for the first time since tweaking his hamstring June 21. That meant Greg Vaughn, who had started the past 14 games in leftfield, was back to being the designated hitter, a move McRae said would allow the veteran to rest. "He's shown he's durable enough to play more than we talked about," McRae said.

McGriff's return to first was supposed to send Steve Cox, his fill-in, back to the bench but Cox has played so well (.316, three home runs, 13 RBI) that McRae said he had to keep his bat in the lineup. Cox started Friday in rightfield for the first time this season.

BRING ON THE HEAT: Not only do the Rays have trouble winning at home, they're having a hard time even getting on their home field.

Their optional workout, scheduled for inside the Trop on Wednesday, has been moved outdoors to Florida Power Park, a change necessitated by the setup for the Oz Fest concert.

BACK TO BEING WILD: It took all of four batters for the Rays' longest streak without a wild pitch this season to end.

When Tanyon Sturtze bounced a breaking ball past catcher John Flaherty, allowing Cliff Floyd to advance to third, it was the first time in 10 games that a Rays pitcher was charged with a wild pitch.

That's a remarkable stat considering Tampa Bay leads the majors with 49 wild pitches. Kansas City, with 45, is the only other team with more than 40.

ROOKIE STREAKER: It took him 10 innings but Brent Abernathy extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an extra-inning double. The rookie second baseman is the first American Leaguer since records started being kept in 1975 to get hits in the first 10 games of his major-league career.

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