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They're off and pitching

A look at the top candidates for the open spots in the rotation:

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 1999


A look at the top candidates for the open spots in the rotation:

ROGER BAILEY AGE: 28 THROWS: Right

CAREER: Colorado's 1992 third-round pick out of Florida State made it to the major leagues in 1995. ... He spent all of 1997 in rotation, going 9-10, 4.29.

1998: Injuries from a spring training car accident limited him to four minor-league rehabilitation appearances.

WHAT'S KEY? Bailey has to show he's healthy, durable.

SPRING STATS: He hasn't pitched in an A game.

JASON JOHNSON AGE: 25 THROWS: Right

CAREER: Undrafted free agent worked way through Pirates system, jumping from Class A to the big leagues in 1997. ... Rays' surprise seventh pick in expansion draft.

1998: Started in Durham but joined Rays in mid-April and went 2-5 with 5.70 ERA in 13 starts. ... Was sidelined by back injury July 3 and didn't return. ... Went impressive 7-1 in Arizona Fall League.

WHAT'S KEY? Must show he's aggressive and can control a game.

SPRING STATS: 0-0, 6.75 in 2 games -- 4 innings, 2 hits, 3 runs

BRYAN REKAR AGE: 26 THROWS: Right

CAREER: Second-round pick in 1993 draft had up-and-down career with Rockies, 7-10, 6.54 in 31 games over three seasons. ... Rays' 19th pick in expansion draft.

1998: Spring training back injury kept him out until July. ... Came back to go 2-8, 4.98 in 16 games. ... Lowered ERA each month.

WHAT'S KEY? A sore back has put Rekar on the sidelines, and it's tough to make the team from there.

SPRING STATS: 0-0, 9.00 in 1 game -- 2 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs

JULIO SANTANA AGE: 25 THROWS: Right

CAREER: Signed with Rangers as a shortstop but began pitching in 1992. ... Worked in 30 games for Texas in 1997 (4-6, 6.75) but was waived in April 1998 and claimed by Tampa Bay.

1998: Moved into rotation June 19 after 15 relief appearances. ... Went 4-6, 4.47 in 19 starts. ... Had good August (2-1, 3.53) but bad September (1-5, 8.47)

WHAT'S KEY? Santana has to prove he can be consistent throughout a game and a season.

SPRING STATS: 0-0, 4.50 in 1 game -- 2 innings, 1 hit, 1 run

TERRELL WADE AGE: 26 THROWS: Left

CAREER: Came up with Atlanta and was in Braves rotation during 1996-97 seasons, posting 7-4 record. ... Sidelined in June 1997 with elbow and shoulder injuries and had surgery.

1998: Spent season rehabbing arm, then made two late September starts, going 1-1, 5.06.

WHAT'S KEY? Wade seems to be healthy, now it's a matter of getting back the feel. Versatility could land him in the bullpen.

SPRING STATS: 0-1, 11.57 in 2 games -- 42/3 innings, 4 hits, 6 runs

BOBBY WITT AGE: 34 THROWS: Right

CAREER: First-round 1985 pick pitched with Texas and Oakland and has 131-140 record and 4.73 ERA in 13 big-league seasons. ... Won 16 games in 1996, but dropped to 12-12, 4.82 in 1997. ... Ranks 12th among active pitchers in strikeouts (1,795) and 20th in wins.

1998: Struggled with Texas -- 5-4, 7.66 -- and was traded to St. Louis, where he went 2-5, 4.94. ... Overall was 7-9, 6.56.

WHAT'S KEY? Witt has to show he can still get batters out and handle lots of innings.

SPRING STATS: 1-0, 3.00 in 1 game -- 3 innings, 2 hits, 1 run.

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