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Vaughn's demotion sparks his offense

By JOHN ROMANO and MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 3, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- At this rate, maybe Greg Vaughn should hit No. 9.

The Devil Rays moved the slumping Vaughn from No. 3 to No. 5 in the lineup Saturday and he responded with his best game in weeks, with a walk, two runs and three hits, including a home run off a catwalk.

Vaughn was even moving on the bases, attempting steals of second and third, although the ball was put in play both times.

"It's been so long since I've been on the bases, I wanted to do something," Vaughn said.

Manager Larry Rothschild had been considering moving Vaughn in the lineup when the player made the decision easier for him. Vaughn met with Rothschild after Friday night's game and told him the team would be better off with a different No. 3 hitter.

The new-look lineup was unveiled Saturday with Steve Cox at No. 3 and Vaughn hitting No. 5 behind Fred McGriff. Vaughn began the year at No. 5 with Jose Canseco at No. 3, but they swapped when Canseco got off to a slow start.

"I'm not helping the team out the way I'm going and the third spot is an important place in the lineup," Vaughn said. "We need to do what's best for the team, so we have to get somebody like Cox in there who's swinging the bat well."

Vaughn had been in an 8-for-65 slump that dropped his batting average to a season-low .260 going into Saturday. He walked his first time up Saturday, then beat out an infield single in the fourth.

"It was good to see him starting to swing the bat," Rothschild said. "He created the first run by hustling down and getting a base hit. That should have been a big part of the game."

Vaughn's troubles coincide with a right shoulder injury that has forced him out of leftfield and into the designated hitter's role. Dr. Koco Eaton examined Vaughn's shoulder Saturday and recommended a more intense rehab program. The shoulder keeps Vaughn from throwing, but he would not say whether it also is hurting him offensively.

"That would be a copout," Vaughn said. "I'm not using any excuses."

FAST WORKER: After one week in the big leagues, Tony Fiore has had three strong outings and pretty much claimed a setup role in the Rays bullpen.

"I feel good about how the week has went, but I'm not going to get too far ahead of myself," Fiore said. "Sooner or later, somebody is going to get to me."

Fiore has a 1.35 ERA in four appearances, but has actually been even better than that. The only run he gave up was Tuesday when he faced one batter -- Boston's Brian Daubach -- and hit him with a pitch. Fiore was ejected and Daubach later came around to score.

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: If his first day in the big leagues was like a dream, his second was a rude wakeup call. Trevor Enders made his major-league debut Saturday, a day after being called up from Triple-A Durham, and coughed up a two-run lead after four hitters in the sixth. Enders did not get hit especially hard, but an error and a bloop single did him in.

"I didn't feel as nervous as I thought I would, but maybe I was subconsciously," Enders said. "Because my control wasn't there and, for me, that's a big problem."

HARD DAY'S NIGHT: Backed up by rainouts, the Triple-A Durham Bulls had to play three games Friday night. The first two games were reduced to seven-inning affairs although the third, which was picked up in the fourth inning from the night before, went 14 innings. The Bulls totaled 25 innings on Friday and won two of the three games. Brooks Badeaux and Randy Winn hit safely in all three games.

AN ASSIST PLEASE: The Rays finished with eight hits, but managed to get only five balls out of the infield. Kansas City outfielders did not record a putout. The Royals had 21 assists. The American League record is 27 set by the Browns in 1919.

INJURY UPDATE: Vinny Castilla had another workout before Saturday's game and Rothschild said he would probably be activated during the upcoming road trip. Castilla has been on the disabled list for more than a month with lower back pain. ... Esteban Yan had no problems with his ailing shoulder after throwing on the side Friday and could be ready to pitch in a game today or Monday. Yan has not pitched in a game since Aug. 26.

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