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Alvarez will finish the year on the DL

By JAMAL THALJI and MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 26, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilson Alvarez is done -- again.

The Rays said Saturday that the still-rehabilitating 31-year-old left-hander will remain on the disabled list for the rest of the season. Which is where he spent the 2000 season after he had season-ending arthroscopic surgery to repair a partial tear in his left rotator cuff.

Alvarez, who hasn't pitched since the end of the '99 season, will attempt his comeback in 2002 -- the final year of his five-year, $35-million contract.

The team's orthopaedic physician, Koco Eaton, said he diagnosed Alvarez with a deltoid strain, a result of his rehabilitation. Eaton said Alvarez told him he tweaked the muscle while pitching. The doctor said it would not affect Alvarez's recovery from the original injury or keep him from returning next season.

"He has made great, steady progress," Eaton said. "But it's two steps forward, one step backward. A lot of the symptoms he's previously had are gone. They're now resolved, he is not having as much pain as he had previously.

"He's getting there, it's just a slow, painstaking process. This is a setback, although not an unanticipated setback with the type of recovery you get from this type of injury."

When Alvarez is healthy, Eaton said, his fastball touches 91 mph. But muscle endurance has been a problem, and Alvarez has been unable to put strong back-to-back rehab outings together.

Alvarez has been told to take two weeks off, then resume rehab at the Raymond A. Naimoli Complex.

SLIDE, JOSE, SLIDE: It was the seventh inning and the White Sox's Jose Canseco was jogging home thanks to Aaron Rowand's two-out, bases-loaded line drive to leftfield. Paul Konerko had scored to cut the Rays' lead to 5-4, and Canseco could have tied the score -- had he slid.

Instead, leftfielder Jason Tyner gunned the ball to catcher John Flaherty, who tagged Canseco out, ending the inning and Chicago's brief rally.

"Once the throw was made, I decided to make it seem like it wasn't going to be a play, to make him not slide," Flaherty said. "He had no idea where the ball was, but (a teammate) was telling him to get down, to slide. So I don't know why he didn't."

STEAL THIS NOTE: Steve Cox and Tyner each had a stolen base, giving the Rays a team-record 26 steals in August, the most of any month. The record was 25 in June 1998.

THEY CALL IT THE STREAK: Tampa Bay has won 10 of its past 14 home games and is 12-8 at home since the July 6 game against Florida. The Rays have won five of their past eight and are 17-16 since July 21 and 12-12 in August.

ROSTER SHUFFLE: His right shoulder no longer sore, Bryan Rekar will be activated to start today's game, his first since July 19. To make room, the Rays will send down a pitcher, with rookie right-hander Jason Standridge probably the leading candidate.

Whoever is sent down will be brought back up when rosters can be expanded Sept. 1. "It's only for a week," manager Hal McRae said. "They don't even have to pack a suitcase." ... Overall, McRae said, five to eight players, including Aubrey Huff, will be added to the roster. The minor-league seasons end Sept. 3. Triple-A manager Bill Evers also may join the team at that time.

ROTATION REMIX: In an effort to keep some pitchers on schedule and to give others some extra rest, the Rays tentatively are planning a slightly altered rotation over the next 10 days. Paul Wilson will pitch Tuesday, followed by Tanyon Sturtze, Ryan Rupe, Rekar, Nick Bierbrodt, Wilson, Joe Kennedy, Sturtze and Rupe.

The change gives Bierbrodt and Kennedy eight days between starts and keeps Sturtze, their top winner, on a somewhat regular schedule. It also allows Rekar to pitch twice before Friday's deadline for players to be traded and be eligible for the postseason.

THANKS: Saturday's attendance was 26,597, which included about 10,000 tickets purchased by the Rays and given to fire and rescue personnel in the surrounding six-county area.

MISCELLANY: Once Greg Vaughn's back is not stiff, McRae will use him in the outfield in hopes of stirring him from his slump at the plate. Until then, Vaughn will continue to DH. ... Tonight is the annual Dine With the Rays event to benefit the ALS Foundation. More than $100,000 was raised the past two years. ... McRae and a few players will greet fans at the Gate 1 entrance today.

You don't say

Fans can say the darnedest things, and apparently a few did during Saturday's pregame photo session. John Flaherty was chuckling over the comment: "You'd better hurry up before you lose your job to Toby Hall." Another fan brought a gift for pitcher Paul Wilson: a pin of a baseball angel. The reason? "Wins, dude, wins."

The game

WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.

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

TODAY'S PROMOTION: For Bat Day, the first 7,500 fans age 14 and under receive a Louisville Slugger Bat provided by the St. Petersburg Times ... After the game is the third annual Dine With the Rays at 6:30 p.m. at the Grill at Feather Sound. The event is sold out.

TICKETS: Available at the stadium box office; through Ticketmaster phone and retail outlets; at team stores.

INFO: 1-888-FAN-RAYS

The pitchers

BRYAN REKAR: He last pitched July 19, but right shoulder tendinitis forced him onto the 15-day DL the next day. Since winning June 13, he has lost four straight decisions in six starts. In three starts against Chicago he is 0-2 lifetime with a 9.60 ERA.

JON GARLAND: He is 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA. In his first win since rejoining the starting rotation, he allowed an unearned run in seven innings Tuesday against Kansas City, tying a career high. Against Tampa Bay he is 1-0 lifetime with a 2.75 ERA.

* * *

TODAY: Rays vs. White Sox, 1:15 p.m.

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