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Braves too much for Wade

By MARC TOPKIN, JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 1999


ST. PETERSBURG -- It wasn't exactly the way Terrell Wade wanted the day to go.

Immersed in a battle for a spot in the rotation, he made his first spring start, against his old Atlanta teammates no less, and couldn't get the ball to go where he wanted it to.

Wade gave up six runs on four hits -- three of them home runs -- and didn't make it through the second inning Saturday as the Rays lost 7-5 before a sellout crowd of 6,247 at Al Lang Field.

Wade returned to the majors in September, capping a 15-month comeback from shoulder and elbow injuries. But he's going to have to improve if he expects to be there in April.

"I've just got to bounce back from a bad outing today and look forward to the next one," Wade said. "My arm feels great and I'll be ready."

Wade's velocity seemed good, but he had trouble with location, especially keeping the ball down. Javy Lopez hit a 400-plus-foot three-run homer in the first inning and Tony Graffanino and Walt Weiss had back-to-back blasts, all on fastballs.

"The velocity is better than last year, more consistently, but he's got to get back to where he's making pitches with it, and that might take a while," manager Larry Rothschild said. BAD TIMING AWARD: On the day the stadium was dedicated as Florida Power Park, the introduction of the players was interrupted -- by a power outage. ... Braves DH Randall Simon was introduced as Simon Randall.

RUPE'S ARRIVAL: RHP Ryan Rupe, who played for Texas A&M a year ago, made a strong debut, allowing two hits over two innings. The 23-year-old, a sixth-round pick in June, impressed the Rays with his performance and his poise, especially when his first two batters were Lopez and Ryan Klesko.

"It was fun," Rupe said. "Yeah, I was nervous. I was quite a bit of everything. For a lot of people this is normal, but for me it was a lot bigger."

GAME REPORT: The Braves took a 6-1 lead, but the Rays scrapped back. They closed to within 7-4 in the fourth inning when Dave Martinez was hit by Mike Remlinger with the bases loaded, but Jose Canseco swung away on a 3-and-0 pitch and flied to right. ... Canseco played leftfield with no problems, teaming with Aaron Ledesma to throw out Weiss at home. ... C Mike DiFelice had two hits.

SEAY-ING IS BELIEVING: Pitching in the morning B game against the Phillies, Bobby Seay gave a glimpse of the talent that led the Devil Rays to invest $3-million in him two years ago. The left-hander struck out the side in his first exhibition appearance, then retired the side with another strikeout in his second inning.

Seay, 20, has been hampered by injuries his first two seasons and likely will start the season with Class A St. Petersburg.

"I just want to show them what I can do when I'm healthy," Seay said. "I wanted them to see what I have."

Rothschild took notice: "He was impressive for a young pitcher. I like the way he goes about it. He's very aggressive on the mound."

CLOSING TIME: Roberto Hernandez pitched two shutout innings to open the B game, hitting the mid-90s on the radar gun. "I left one splitter up and he hit it for a double," Hernandez said. "Other than that, I was hitting my spots. I'm right where I should be." Hernandez has been bothered by a strained quadricep but said it wasn't a problem Saturday.

MAN OF FLASH: He's no Carlton Fisk or even Jason Kendall, but C John Flaherty stepped up in the order for the B game, batting second. Flaherty, who hit two homers and singled, figured it was the first -- and last -- time it would happen. "Obviously," he joked, "they've seen that I've gotten quicker and are trying to exploit it."

QUEUED UP: OF Quinton McCracken, rehabbing from strained right knee ligaments, is wearing a metal brace. "It provides stability and confidence," trainer Jamie Reed said. "Ideally he'll graduate out of the brace." McCracken is expected back for the final 10 exhibition games.

RAYS BITS: OF Mike Kelly, sidelined a few days with back spasms, took some swings Saturday with no pain. ... OF Rich Butler, away from the team since Monday because of personal matters, returned Saturday afternoon. ... Star RHP Rolando Arrojo is scheduled to make his spring debut in Monday's 10 a.m. B game at Bradenton. Hernandez also will pitch.

TODAY'S SCHEDULED PITCHERS: Rays: Tony Saunders, Mark Hutton, Rick White, Alan Newman, Bobby Munoz. Braves: Greg Maddux, Micah Bowie, Kevin McGlinchey, Adrian Manzano, Joe Winkelsas.

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