For Rays, Winn is bright spot


August 04, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - When the Tampa Bay Devil Rays let the non-waiver trade deadline pass last week without making a move, they looked at it as a sign of progress.

Unlike last year, when they traded Fred McGriff, this time their best player was still with the team. Outfielder Randy Winn wasn't pawned off to some contender for future prospects.

Winn made the All-Star team this season, and he has quietly become one of the better hitters in the American League. After batting .359 in June, he hit .360 in July.

He entered last night ranked among the AL batting leaders with a .321 average. On a team with fewer bright spots than the dark side of the moon, Winn has shined.

In a four-game series with the Orioles last week at Tropicana Field, the Devil Rays announced a paid attendance of between 10,000 and 11,000 every night, though it never looked like more than 5,000 made their way to the seats.

"I'm still positive, even though our record's not the greatest," Winn said. "We've had a lot of negativity surrounding this team, and you try not to let those things get us down."

Winn, 28, said he tried not to get too caught up in the trade rumors and didn't spend his time dreaming of greener pastures. The San Francisco Giants had a strong interest until they traded for Chicago White Sox center fielder Kenny Lofton.

So for now, it looks like Winn is going to stay.

"Hopefully, I'm here when we turn this thing around," he said.

"I'm very optimistic that we can. You look around this room, and we've got a lot of young talent, some really good players, and we've got some young guys knocking on the door."

Yankees rotation logjam

New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens should be ready to come off the disabled list Tuesday after missing the past three weeks with a groin injury, and that will mean a tough decision for manager Joe Torre.

Someone has to come out of the rotation to make room for Clemens, and that someone will come from a group that includes Mike Mussina, David Wells, Andy Pettitte, Orlando Hernandez and Jeff Weaver.

Before holding the Anaheim Angels to one run in seven innings Thursday, Weaver had surrendered nine home runs in his first 27 innings as a Yankee, and his ERA had gone up almost a full run since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers.

Then there's Mussina, whose ERA ballooned to 4.83 after he was pounded in Wednesday night's 17-6 loss against the Texas Rangers.

No easy choices there.

Sox address wrong need

Even though the Cliff Floyd trade rankled Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to no end, the Boston Red Sox might have short-changed themselves by not getting a starting pitcher before the deadline.

"I think we need Bartolo Colon, something like that, rather than Cliff Floyd," Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez said.

"Nothing against Cliff Floyd, but I believe our hole is for another starting pitcher with experience. I would like to see [management] make that attempt. We need a big-name pitcher like Bartolo, someone with big-game experience - if we can get him. If not, we're going to go with what we have."

The Red Sox had one of the most potent lineups in baseball before they added Floyd. But the starting pitching has been shaky behind Martinez, Derek Lowe and John Burkett.

In a move that shouldn't go overlooked, Boston did shore up its bullpen a bit by adding setup man Bob Howry from the White Sox.

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

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