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Sprain a relief to Abernathy

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 10, 2001


OAKLAND, Calif. -- Second baseman Brent Abernathy may be sidelined for a few days with a painful left ankle sprain.

And he couldn't be much happier, or more relieved, about the situation.

Abernathy thought he had suffered a serious knee injury when he lost his footing trying to field a ground ball on the edge of the outfield turf in the fifth inning Sunday.

"I felt it twinge, and when I was walking off the field and walking up here to the clubhouse it got really stiff," he said. "I was really worried about the knee, but it checked out all right. Everything seems fine, and it's not nearly as sore as my ankle is right now. The main thing is that I got lucky as far as the knee goes."

Abernathy wasn't sure exactly how he got hurt, except to say "the grass was wet and my spikes came out from under me and I turned my ankle. And right as I caught my ankle from going further I felt my knee twinge a little bit."

Trainer Jamie Reed said the ankle sprain doesn't appear serious. It was the same ankle, however, that Abernathy injured in a collision with Jason Tyner on Sept. 3 in Seattle.

"I got lucky twice," Abernathy said. "It could have been a lot worse."

OUCH: John Flaherty's stiff neck indirectly led to Russ Johnson spraining his left thumb and missing a scheduled start Sunday.

With Flaherty unavailable Friday night and Paul Hoover not yet added to the roster, Johnson went out between innings to warm up reliever Jeff Wallace.

Johnson, an infielder who is the emergency catcher, got jammed on a pitch and sprained his left thumb. He is expected to be available Tuesday.

"Everybody told me his ball had a lot of movement, and it did," Johnson said. "I caught it the wrong way, and it caught me."

ESTE OKAY: Esteban Yan, who hadn't pitched since blowing a save and then losing Sept. 3, rebounded with an impressive performance Sunday. He worked two perfect innings and struck out four of the six batters he faced. "He was as clean today as he's been," manager Hal McRae said.

NO MAS: Boston ace Pedro Martinez won't pitch against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. Derek Lowe, after 64 relief appearances, will make his first start.

HOME FOR DINNER?: At 4 hours 10 minutes, Sunday's game was the fifth-longest in Rays history. The longest? A 5:16 affair against Baltimore on Aug. 4, 2000, that also went a team-record 15 innings.

RAYS BITS: The three runs the Rays scored off Oakland starter Tim Hudson matched their total from four previous games. ... Rays batters have walked just 10 times over their past seven games. ... Three of their past six games have gone into extra innings. ... The Rays went 1-5 on the road trip, matching their second-worst winning percentage for a trip. ... Former A's slugger Ben Grieve, booed by some fans throughout the weekend, went 4-for-12 in the three games. ... To make room for Hoover on the 40-man roster, right-hander Ariel Prieto was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

Outta leftfield

Paul Hoover's cell phone was buzzing after his unexpected promotion and successful big-league debut Saturday. "A lot of people were calling all night and all morning," Hoover said. "It was pretty hectic. And pretty exciting."

By the numbers

vs. East: 17-40

vs. Central: 13-19

vs. West: 10-26

vs. NL: 10-8

vs. RH starters: 39-71

vs. LH starters: 11-22

on grass: 16-45

on turf: 34-48

in day games: 21-33

at night: 29-60

one-run games: 16-15

two-run games: 10-16

extra innings: 5-4

scoring first: 37-28

scoring four or more: 45-38

scoring fewer than four: 5-55

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