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Davis, Eiland, Gaillard among latest vets cut

By MARC TOPKIN AND JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 17, 1999


CLEARWATER -- For a young team, the Devil Rays have cut loose a lot of veterans during the past week.

Tampa Bay made its second round of cuts Tuesday, and former major-league pitchers Tim Davis, Dave Eiland and Eddie Gaillard were among them. That makes eight major-league pitchers the Rays have sent to the minors in five days.

"We brought in a lot of older guys who have had success in the past or are coming off rehab situations. ... We just ran out of opportunities to offer them innings," manager Larry Rothschild said. "We've cut more veterans early on than you'd normally see in spring training."

Because the Rays have not had time to fully develop minor-leaguers, they brought in several low-risk free agents to look at. Only four healthy free agents remain: Roger Bailey, Norm Charlton, Erik Plantenberg and Bobby Witt.

Rothschild said he made it clear to the pitchers cut that they might still fit into Tampa Bay's plans. "Most of the people we sent down, I told them this was not etched in stone," Rothschild said. "We needed to give them innings or at-bats and if they perform well, they could end up back here."

Eiland, a Dade City native, went 13-5 for Triple-A Durham last season. "I'm going to go down there and start, and I'm going to be ready if they need me, and hopefully, they will. If they do, I'm going to be ready," Eiland said. "I feel good about myself and how I'm throwing ball and what I can do."

Mexican League pitcher Daniel Garibay, minor-league OFs Alex Sanchez and Carlos Mendoza, and 1B Steve Cox also were sent out.

QUICK CUTS: The cuts were not unexpected for Sanchez and Mendoza, fleet outfielders who have had success in the minors. Both, however, made an impression.

Sanchez, who has stolen 158 bases the past two seasons, began a game-winning rally Saturday against the Yankees by stealing second and third. "I liked his aggressiveness," Rothschild said. "He won a game for us by stealing second and third in a situation where they knew he would be stealing, which is what separates the average baserunners from the good ones."

WADE-ING IN: Rothschild said Terrell Wade, coming into spring training, had a leg up on the other contenders for the No. 4 or 5 spot in the rotation.

"He's done nothing to make you think any differently about it now," Rothschild said.

A HOT SQUAD: The Rays won their fifth straight, beating the Phillies 8-1. Wilson Alvarez threw four solid innings, working in a number of split-finger fastballs. Fred McGriff had a home run and a double, and Dave Martinez added a late homer. The Rays have six home runs in three games after hitting five in the first 10.

"It's nice to win games, especially if you do it the right way with guys making progress," Rothschild said.

EX-RAY VISION: Phillies OF Bobby Abreu was briefly -- very briefly -- a member of the Devil Rays, but GM Chuck LaMar had never seen him play until Tuesday.

Abreu was Tampa Bay's third pick in the expansion draft, from Houston but was immediately dealt to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker in a prearranged deal.

LaMar said the free-agent market and expansion draft were devoid of quality shortstops, necessitating the trade. With the Rays building around pitching and defense, he said, the need for a veteran shortstop was critical.

The logic may have been sound at the time, but the perception today is less than equitable. Abreu hit .312 with 17 homers and 29 doubles; Stocker hit .208 with six homers.

"If Kevin Stocker plays as solidly as he did in Philadelphia and hits in that .250-.260 range, plays the defense he's capable of, under the circumstances we'd make that trade again," LaMar said.

A MINOR ISSUE: Because assignments have stacked up after Sunday's rainout, Rick White and Esteban Yan will pitch for Durham today in a minor-league game at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater.

INJURY UPDATE: Jose Canseco, bothered by lower back pain, is scheduled to play today in Winter Haven. ... Paul Sorrento, who has missed the past two days with a sore calf, also might be in the lineup. ... Randy Winn came out of Monday's night game with no ill effects but rested his sore right quadriceps muscle Tuesday.

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