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Injured rib muscle puts Sturtze on DL


© St. Petersburg Times, published August 28, 2000

BALTIMORE -- Pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, who strained a rib cage muscle Saturday, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

"I told him last night he'd probably wake up today and it'd be worse," manager Larry Rothschild.

Sturtze said Rothschild was right, that he hadn't gotten much sleep Saturday night and that his left side hurt every time he moved.

If Sturtze can heal in two weeks or so, Rothschild said, he would pitch again this season, "but that's going to have to be a real quick healing process and I've never seen it on that type of injury. So there's the possibility that his season's over."

Albie Lopez had the same injury last season: He was out five weeks. "Hopefully I'll get better faster and get back for the end of September," Sturtze said, shrugging. "Who knows."

With Sturtze off the active roster, right-hander Tony Fiore was called up from Durham. The 28-year-old right-hander was 8-5 with 2.28 ERA and eight saves in 53 games, all but one in relief.

He didn't have much time to introduce himself. His flight was delayed, and he got to Camden Yards 15 minutes before game time.

"I just kind of ran in here and got dressed (uniform No. 36) and headed for the bullpen." Still, he said, he had plenty of time to get nervous. "I sat around for five innings before I first started to get loose. I'm glad I got out of (the game) without giving up any runs."

One reason for that: a spectacular play by shortstop Felix Martinez. He raced halfway down the leftfield line and well into foul territory, sliding to grab Delino DeShields' single. He spun and without getting to his feet fired a strike to second baseman Bobby Smith, who tagged the sliding DeShields.

"Outstanding," Fiore said. "He was down in Durham doing the same stuff early in the year."

Martinez explained his philosophy in seven words: "If I get a chance, I throw."

Said Rothschild: "He's going to range all over the field, and he's going to hustle on every play. That was the result of him hustling. He can make plays that other people can't."

SAUNDERS DROPS BY: Tony Saunders, born in Baltimore and living in the off-season in nearby Severn, rejoined his former teammates briefly Sunday, three days after breaking his left arm and one day after announcing his retirement.

Saunders was the No. 1 pick off the Marlins roster by the Rays in the expansion draft in 1998. He suffered a spiral fracture of his left humerus May 26, 1999, and had been working since then to return to the majors. He suffered a similar fracture while pitching for the St. Petersburg Devil Rays.

"I told him he had nothing to be ashamed of," fellow pitcher Dave Eiland said, "that he did everything he could. That's one thing that makes (retiring) easier for him, he said. He realizes he gave it everything he had. ... That's all you can do, all that's humanly possible, and he did it."

Rothschild said Saunders is at the point in his life where he has to decide which path to take. "It's not easy for anybody and for it to happen this quickly and with this finality, it takes time. ... Sometimes I think it's better to have to make the decision clear-cut, and in this case Tony's going to do that."

Managing general partner Vince Naimoli also met with Saunders and said later: "I told him ever since I said, "Our No. 1 pick is Tony Saunders' out there in Phoenix that we've been inextricably linked. When he's ready to talk, we're ready to talk, and we'll work out what he wants to work out."

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