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Woes compel club to plan cuts

By JOHN ROMANO, MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 1999


ST. PETERSBURG -- Larry Rothschild has seen enough. And that's not good news for a number of Devil Rays.

The manager said the team is playing uninspired baseball and it's time to trim the roster and get a little more serious.

Rothschild said he expects to make cuts today and Saturday, bringing the 75-man roster down to a more manageable number.

"I don't like to look on the field and feel that the energy level is not where I want it to be," Rothschild said. "I've seen enough of that this spring, so it's time to change it."

The Rays scheduled extra games and limited the playing time of a number of veterans in order to get a good look at as many players as possible.

The result is the Rays have one of the worst records in the Grapefruit League.

"I'm not looking forward to cutting people but it's time to get this team down. It's time for us to concentrate on getting the job done and making the right decisions and playing the game the way it should be played," Rothschild said. "We haven't been playing that way and I have no excuses for that.

"I don't like to watch sloppy baseball and I don't think the players like to play sloppy baseball, so it has to get better."

HURTS SO GOOD: Wilson Alvarez felt like beating up on himself after his performance in Thursday's afternoon game in Bradenton. Unfortunately, the Pirates already had beaten him to the punch.

Alvarez left in the third inning after being struck in the left calf by a hard grounder off Keith Osik's bat.

Alvarez was sporting a red bruise later, although his pride seemed to be hurting more.

Poor location had Alvarez pitching from behind most of the afternoon, including the 2-and-0 fastball he threw to Osik.

"I deserve this," Alvarez said, looking at his bruise. "At 2-0 I threw the ball right down the middle -- I had to."

Facing 17 batters, Alvarez gave up four hits, four walks and three runs. He said he felt fine physically but was overthrowing his fastball, which kept him from spotting it properly.

"I felt real good, my velocity and everything. I was just trying to throw harder than I can. I was all over the place," Alvarez said. "Everybody knows at this level you can't be wild, you have to throw strikes to get people out."

WALKING WOUNDED: RHP Rolando Arrojo's back wasn't as sore, but his next start likely will be delayed until the middle of next week. "He was much better today, but we'll probably back him off a few days," Rothschild said. ... DH Jose Canseco received treatment for his sore right hip but is out indefinitely. "It's going to depend on when the pain subsides and Jose can play. I don't know if that's real predictable right now," Rothschild said. "It's going to be a few days. We'll just have to see." ... CF Randy Winn, out since Monday with a strained quad, is close to returning and could play over the weekend. ... Rothschild said he should know by the middle of next week when OF Quinton McCracken, out with strained right knee ligaments, can begin playing games.

EVERYBODY SING: Rothschild celebrates his 45th birthday today.

EARLY GAME BLUES: Julio Franco's two-run double in the first staked the Rays to a lead in the afternoon game, but Alvarez was unable to hold it in the bottom of the inning. Six Pirates pitchers threw eight innings of four-hit shutout ball the rest of the way.

EXTRA TROOPS: Though they have a major-league high 75 players in camp, the Devil Rays have found themselves short of outfielders in recent days. McCracken, Winn, Canseco, Mike Kelly, Rich Butler and Billy Ashley have missed time in the past week because of injuries or personal matters.

In the middle of several days of split squad and B games, the Rays had to bring up Jim Buccheri and Dustin Carr from the minor-league camp as emergency reserves. Neither got in the game.

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