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Trade watch now in the final hours

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 31, 2000


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- General manager Chuck LaMar continued discussions about more potential trades Sunday, but wouldn't say if he thought there would be another deal by today's 4 p.m. deadline for non-waiver transactions.

"I don't know," he said.

While some contenders could be waiting to seek surprise additions, such as Jose Canseco, most discussions the Rays have had apparently involve starting pitcher Steve Trachsel.

The Blue Jays are said to be interested, and may be willing to give up young pitching, and the Giants had a scout at Sunday's game.

Trachsel said he gave up keeping track of the rumors a week ago. "I don't know," he said. "I haven't talked about it with anybody."

Trachsel flew home with the Rays on Sunday and said he didn't plan to spend the day sitting by the phone: "Actually, I'm going to the dentist." Other talks may involve closer Roberto Hernandez, though there would be a limited number of teams willing to take on his $6-million salary.

"You can make trades until 4 o'clock (today)," LaMar said. "Whether we make any more remains to be seen."

Teams still can make trades after today's deadline, but the players first must clear waivers. That process has become more complicated with the number of teams in contention for the wild-card playoff berths.

ROTATING ROTATION: With today's off-day, the Rays juggled their rotation to get through the week using only four starters. Today would have been Esteban Yan's day to pitch, so the Rays can stay in rotation by using Ryan Rupe, Bryan Rekar and Albie Lopez against Cleveland and, assuming he is not traded, Trachsel against Baltimore on Friday.

They wouldn't need a fifth starter until Saturday. Travis Harper, called up Friday, could be the man, or Dave Eiland could be activated from the disabled list. Paul Wilson, acquired from the Mets, will be used initially in relief.

The Rays want to be cautious with Wilson, who is 16 months removed from elbow surgery, and may send him to Triple A to get more regular work. "I'm sure that's a possibility," manager Larry Rothschild said. "But I want to see him first."

Eiland was strong in a rehab start for Triple-A Durham on Sunday, pitching five innings and allowing six hits, no walks and one earned run. OFF THE MARK: Being a veteran left-hander with post-season experience and at the end of his contract, Mark Guthrie would seem to be a prime candidate to be picked up by a contender. The only flaw in that logic is that Guthrie hasn't been pitching well lately. "That probably has a lot to do with it," he said.

Guthrie, who lives in Bradenton, says he would like to stay with the Rays if specifics can be worked out. "There's a lot of benefits to playing here," Guthrie said. "A lot of players don't realize how good they have it until they've been around the league, and I have."

FOR STARTERS: Outfielder Jason Tyner was relatively pleased with his Rays debut. He fouled out on a bunt attempt and wasn't able to throw out a runner at home, but he drove in a run with an eighth-inning single. "I was a little nervous, but I felt pretty good at the plate." ATTENTION, STEVE LUDZIK: The Rays were still talking about Gerald Williams' efforts to slow the wayward fan who ran onto the field Saturday. "That was a good cross-check," Greg Vaughn said. "The Lightning could have used him last night."

POWER DRAIN: Rothschild said he planned to rest some of his regulars, and he apparently meant it. Vaughn, Fred McGriff and Vinny Castilla all were on the bench for the start of the game. Rothschild wanted to give Vaughn and McGriff the opportunity to rest their legs for two days, and said he didn't want to play Castilla, who has had back problems, in a day game after a night game. Vaughn wasn't particularly happy to be out of the lineup. "I don't like days off unless they're scheduled," he said. "I'm not being selfish because I know everyone has to play, but I'm not used to being the guy who comes out."

RAYS BITS: The past three Tampa Bay-Kansas City series have been sweeps, two by the Rays. ... First-base coach Jose Cardenal's flu got worse Sunday, and he spent another game in the clubhouse, replaced by Leon Roberts.

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