Jays' Delgado wants to stay in team's nest

ON THE AL EAST

July 28, 2002|By Joe Christensen

Carlos Delgado loves Toronto, the city and the baseball team, and even though his hefty contract makes him look undesirable in the Blue Jays' salary purge, he has a no-trade clause and doesn't plan on leaving anytime soon.

"I made a commitment here, and I want to stay with it," Delgado said this past week before playing the Orioles at Camden Yards. "If they come up to me and say, `We are trying to cut salary,' then this is a different story. I can't think of anything worse than working someplace where they don't want you.

"But that hasn't happened, and I want to be part of that turning point. I want to be here when they go from the outhouse to the penthouse."

With a nice mix of raw (Eric Hinske, Vernon Wells) and seasoned (Delgado, Jose Cruz Jr., Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter) talent, the Blue Jays have become a team to watch under sharp new general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

The Blue Jays are 10-5 since the All-Star break and have swept all four games against the Orioles.

"We're not really starting from scratch," Delgado said. "We've got pretty talented ballplayers. We're still inconsistent, and we need to work on that, but guys are getting the opportunity to play and doing a tremendous job."

Now, if the Blue Jays could just get Delgado hitting like his old self. In the second year of a four-year, $68-million contract, he's having a second consecutive subpar season, at least by the standards he set in 2000.

After hitting .344 with 41 homers and 137 RBIs that year, he slumped to .279-39-102 last year and is currently batting .250-21-75.

"I think I can do a lot better," Delgado said, "and it's frustrating because you work so hard and obviously the results are not there. But it just makes me work that much harder. I'm not about to quit."

The Blue Jays will probably stick with Delgado, at least through the middle of next season, when his name might start to surface in trade talks again.

"We haven't shopped him around; other teams have called us about him," Ricciardi said. "Carlos is a big presence in the middle of our lineup. With all the kids, you need someone who's been through the wars a little bit and can be that presence and protect some of the other hitters."

Dog days for Devil Rays

The Orioles will make their final visit to Tropicana Field this week, where they'll find the Tampa Bay Devil Rays floundering, just like always. The team's managing general partner, Vince Naimoli, recently told The Tampa Tribune he is sticking by general manager Chuck LaMar and manager Hal McRae - for now.

"Everyone has responsibilities here, and at this point Hal is our manager and Chuck is our general manager," Naimoli said. "As time goes on, we need to see improvement. Chuck LaMar has a contract for two more years, and Hal has one for next year. There is no way we're not going to live up to those contracts."

Not Hermanson's year

As the Red Sox juggled their rotation again this week - moving Casey Fossum in and sending Frank Castillo out - it was another reminder of how much better things could be with a healthy Dustin Hermanson.

That simply hasn't happened. Hermanson missed 3 1/2 months with a strained groin, came off the disabled list to pitch one inning last weekend and then went back on the DL after a freak accident that caused an infection in the bursa sac of his left elbow.

Walking through his kitchen, he apparently slipped and banged his elbow against the corner of the countertop, puncturing the bursa, which is the lubricating sac beneath the elbow. He remained in the hospital until Friday to have the elbow drained and monitored.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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