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Alvarez's splitter gets mixed results


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 1999

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilson Alvarez is working on a split-finger pitch, hoping it helps put last season's 6-14 record behind him. Based on Monday's performance, he has some more work to do.

Wilson Alvarez delivers during intrasquad game Monday. [Times photo: Jonathan Newton]
Alvarez mixed in a half-dozen splitters with mixed results during a 43-pitch, two-inning outing. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in a sloppy 29-pitch first-inning, then responded with a perfect second inning.

"It was the first time he's got a chance to throw the splitter," manager Larry Rothschild said. "He threw some good, some not so good. Overall, he was fine. He'll get more comfortable throwing the splitter and he'll get better and better."

Alvarez worked on the splitter throughout the winter and had been eager to try it in a game. "In the first inning I wanted to throw that pitch and get a feel for it," he said. "I was a little more comfortable in the second inning."

Alvarez was excited by the movement on the splitter, and generally pleased with his initial outing. "It didn't look good, but I'm not worried about what happened," he said. "If it happened every time, then I'd be worried."

Catcher John Flaherty said he was encouraged by what he saw. "For the first time out, in terms of velocity and the ball jumping around, I thought he threw great," he said.

EVERS RULES: Bobby Smith hit a two-run single and Mike Kelly added a two-run double to spark a four-run first against Alvarez in a 4-3 victory for the team managed by Bill Evers. The rally started when leadoff man Carlos Mendoza bunted and 2B Julio Franco failed to cover first. . . . Bobby Ramos' team scored its runs on a single and sacrifice fly by David Lamb and a double by Joe Oliver. . . . Roger Bailey threw two no-hit innings. . . . Randy Winn had two hits and two steals. . . . Smith made two nice defensive plays at third.

KIDS' DAYS: Promising minor-leaguers Ryan Rupe and Bobby Seay made their first appearances against big-league hitters. Rupe needed just eight pitches to retire Bubba Trammell on a fly ball and strike out Brooks Kieschnick and Franco. Seay gave up a single to Kelly and retired Paul Sorrento, Smith and Dave Silvestri. "I tried not to do anything different," said Seay, a former standout at Sarasota High. "I just had to focus more."

Capless Jose Canseco, expected to be DH most of this season, nevertheless takes his turn in the field during workout. [Times photo: Jonathan Newton]
Closer Roberto Hernandez reported to camp saying he couldn't wait to start pitching in games. He won't have to wait long. Hernandez will start Wednesday's exhibition against the University of Miami at Al Lang Field. "It's only one inning, so it's irrelevant if it's the first or last," Hernandez said. "I can go out, get the job done and go home." Hernandez started a spring training game a few years ago for the White Sox and spent six years in the minors as a starter. . . . Other scheduled pitchers include Dave Eiland, Bobby Munoz, Alan Newman, John LeRoy, Ramon Tatis, Mike Duvall and Eddie Gaillard. . . . Sophomore RHP Dan Smith is scheduled to start for UM, which will use wooden bats.

TAKE A MOMENT: OF Rich Butler was excused from Monday's workout for personal reasons. Butler was a close friend to Ken Robinson, the former Toronto and Florida State pitcher who was killed in an auto accident Sunday.

MINI WORKOUT: The Rays will have one workout this morning for all 75 players. After the session, the team will shift camp to Al Lang.


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