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6-man staff planned upon Rekar's return


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 20, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rays will use a six-man rotation at least until the roster limit expands from 25 to 40 Sept. 1, manager Hal McRae said Sunday.

"For now, but I don't know about the rest of the year," he said. "I wouldn't think we'd have any more starters unless it's (Wilson) Alvarez or (Juan) Guzman. But that hasn't been determined."

The rotation will be Paul Wilson, Ryan Rupe, Nick Bierbrodt, Tanyon Sturtze, Joe Kennedy and Bryan Rekar.

The Rays will need to make roster moves to accommodate first baseman Steve Cox and Rekar when they come off the disabled list.

Cox, out since Aug. 7 with a lower back strain, is expected back as soon as Thursday after a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Orlando. Rekar, who pitched for the O-Rays on Sunday evening, is scheduled to start against the White Sox on Aug. 26.

"It's tough because it's a move for a week," McRae said. "So what do you do for a week? It's the same with Rekar. ... There's a lot of things you could do. It's just something you hate to do for seven days."

McRae could option Aubrey Huff, Damian Rolls, Jared Sandberg or pitchers Jason Standridge or Bobby Seay to the minors, then bring them back Sept. 1.

SMART PLAY: It's a trick most third basemen know.

That's why Rolls, who has played third most of his career, credited Corey Koskie after the Twins third baseman face-guarded Rolls on a potential tag-up play from third in the first.

"I usually put my back to them like I was watching the play," Rolls said. "Hey, if I was playing third base I would do it. I couldn't see the play and (third-base coach Terry) Collins told me no, so I wasn't going anywhere, but at the same time I wanted to put my hand out and try to push him a little bit to see if I could get an interference call."

McRae argued with third-base umpire Paul Emmel over the play, which took place on Greg Vaughn's fly ball to centerfield.

"They're stretching the rules," McRae said. "It was face-guarding, which I had never seen in 30 years in baseball.

"I don't think he'll do that again and I don't think the umpires are going to allow that."

GOING DEEP, FINALLY: The Rays entered the game with six homers in their past 651 at-bats.

Who got the seventh? One of the Rays you'd least expect.

Almost a year to the day when he last homered, second baseman Felix Martinez hit his third career homer off Twins starter Eric Milton in the second inning.

The ball cleared the leftfield wall by a few inches.

"I didn't try to hit a home run," said Martinez, whose most recent homer came against Chicago on Aug. 21, 2000. "I tried to just get the ball in play, hit a line drive and I hit it well. I thought it was a double."

BY THE NUMBERS: With a single in the sixth, Ben Grieve extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games. ... Vaughn's RBI in the fifth was his third in the past 13 games. The Rays designated hitter has one homer in his past 24. ... After ending a career-high eight-game hitting streak Saturday, catcher Toby Hall went 1-for-4 with two RBI. ... Shortstop Chris Gomez extended his season-high hitting streak to seven games with a leadoff double in the seventh.

You don't say

Sunday was Kirby Puckett Bobblehead Day at the Metrodome and fans came early -- like, two days early -- to get their hands on one of the 15,000 dolls. Rays personnel had to zigzag through the masses waiting outside the gates several hours before the game just to get inside the stadium.

"I saw people up there doing everything this morning," Rays manager Hal McRae said. "There were card players. There were people book reading. There were coupon clippers. There was someone crocheting. They were doing everything up there.

"So the normal activities that they engage in, they did it here. The lady cutting the coupons out, that's probably what she does at home."

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