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Expanded roster to bring new faces

By MIKE READLING and MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Don't look for Tampa Bay to make a whole lot of noise Friday when teams are allowed to expand their rosters to 40 players. But don't be surprised to see a couple of new faces around Tropicana Field, either.

At least two players -- Charleston's Jace Brewer and Orlando's Kenny Kelly -- are assured of a call-up because it is written into their contracts. Damian Rolls, who rehabilitated for most of this season with the Rays, is also expected to be added to the expanded roster so the team can get him major-league service time to satisfy Rule 5 commitments.

Minor-leaguers Matt White, Bobby Seay, Pat Borders and Brent Abernathy could have been candidates to be promoted, but all were selected for the Olympic team. Being called up and playing, however, are different matters. Brewer, this year's fifth-round draft pick, will spend most of his time observing his veteran teammates, manager Larry Rothschild said.

"I doubt he'll play much," Rothschild said of Brewer, who is hitting .218 in Class A. "He may get an at-bat here or there, but I think his main reason for being here is to see what it's like in the major leagues and get a feel for it."

ALBIE READY: During his last start, Albie Lopez couldn't return for the seventh inning because of severe cramps in his right hamstring. That was Friday. This is Wednesday.

"I feel fine," he said. "It just cramped up, that's all. It'll be fine."

Rothschild said there have been no indications that what happened Friday was anything but an isolated incident.

"As far as I know, he's fine," Rothschild said. "He's ready to go. Hopefully, it doesn't cramp up on him again and he's fine."

HOMECOMING: Boston's Carl Everett, who grew up in Tampa and lives in Brandon during the off-season, is making his first trip to Tropicana Field.

Everett played with Houston the past two seasons and the New York Mets before that, never getting the chance to play in front of a "home" crowd. This is Boston's first trip to St. Petersburg this season.

And the outfielder made the most of it.

Everett tripled, doubled and homered twice Tuesday, driving in a career-high six runs. The two home runs were the 100th and 101st of his career.

Everett, however, seemed unimpressed with his trip south. He said he left nine tickets at the gate for his "usual crew" and wasn't expecting any sort of special welcome from the crowd.

"It's just another game," Everett said. "For those people who saw me play and know how I play ... I suppose if they want to come out and see me play, hopefully I can put on a good show for them."

ALMOST THERE: The Rays need to win 13 of their remaining 31 games to become the third expansion team to increase its win total in each of its first three years. One problem: 27 of those 31 games come against teams .500 or better, all of which are in playoff contention.

HELP A BABY: The Devil Rays Wives will conduct a baby goods drive before Sunday's game. Fans are encouraged to bring in diapers, non-perishable formula and other baby-related products. The proceeds will benefit the Alpha House in Tampa. Fans who bring in items will receive a voucher good for one upper deck general admission ticket for any game between Sept. 15 and 20.

RAYS BITS: Boston's Lou Merloni left the game in the third inning with a minor concussion, an apparent result of bench-clearing brawl in the first inning. Merloni came to bat in the second and reached on a single. ... The Rays entered June with a 5.77 team ERA, worst in the American League and 29th in the majors. Since then they have posted a 4.27 ERA, tops in the AL.

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