|Tampa Bay Devil Rays |
February 23, 2001... Newspaper Clipping - Bradenton Herald Tribune by Chris Anderson, Staff Writer
St. Petersburg, Florida - There was actually something worse than the pain. And that was watching the players who weren't experiencing any.
Wilson Alvarez spent most of last season watching the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from a television inside Tropicana Field. Because of a rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder, Alvarez did not pitch in 2000.
"Sometimes you think, 'Man, what am I doing here? I don't belong here," Alvarez said. "I was feeling that way. Sometimes I'd have to leave early. I didn't feel like I was part of the team."
Juan Guzman felt similar frustration. Guzman and Alvarez were to be the two top members of the starting rotation, but Guzman missed virtually all of 2000 with a rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder.
"I was frustrating and I think everyone knew that," Guzman said.
Vinny Castilla's season was just as bad. The third baseman was supposed to hit home runs for Tampa Bay the same way he did for Colorado. Instead, he landed on the disabled list three times with back problems and hit just six homers. Prior to 2000, Castilla had never been on the DL.
"It was very tough," Castilla said. "I didn't know how to handle it. Last year was a miserable year for me and the whole organization."
For $21 million last season, the Devil Rays received five outs from their top two pitchers and six home runs from their starting third baseman.
The Devil Rays hope this season will be different, that they can be competitive if players such as Alvarez, Guzman and Castilla stay healthy.
Castilla reported to camp for the first time Thursday and appeared in good shape. The back problems he experienced last year have virtually disappeared. Castilla spent the off-season playing winter ball in Mexico and had no problems. In 20 winter ball games, he hit .360 with seven home runs.
"My fear in winter ball was I'd swing too hard and my back would hurt," Castilla said. "But the first couple of games I didn't feel any pain. I said, 'Man, I'm healed.'"
Meanwhile, Guzman is ahead of Alvarez at this point in spring training because his shoulder surgery was not as extensive as Alvarez's.
Alvarez is not expected to be ready for Tampa Bay's opening series at home on April 3-5. It is possible Alvarez will not pitch until the end of April.
Baseballhistorian.com - Newspaper Clippings