07/24/07 7:59 PM ET
Notes: Salas gets the call up to the bigs
After serving 50-game suspension, righty returns to Rays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Salas, 28, received a 50-game suspension on May 7 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, a violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Salas was reinstated from the restricted list on July 3. He compiled a 1-0 record and a 2.08 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings in seven games for Durham. With the Rays this season, Salas is 1-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 15 games.
"I'm sorry and feel bad for the team and my teammates for the time I lost," said Salas through bullpen coach Bobby Ramos, who served as an interpreter for reporters.
Salas said he was "very surprised" when he got suspended and still does not know what he ate or drank that caused him to test positive.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Salas would be used in the seventh inning Tuesday night if a reliever is needed.
"We'll see how it works," Maddon said. "I just want to get him out there and get him involved."
The Rays felt the loss of Salas in their bullpen.
"He came off a great Minor League year last year," Maddon said of Salas. "And this season, we were counting on him a lot and it went away. So there's no telling what he would have done between then and now. But he was in our plans for this year, absolutely."
Maddon said the biggest thing he wanted to know about Salas was whether his fastball was cutting.
"And it is cutting, and that's a good thing," said Maddon, who explained that Salas' fastball began to flatten out when he was with the Rays at the end of the 2006 season.
Hammel back: Jason Hammel will be the Rays' starter on Friday night against the Red Sox. After making a spot start on Saturday against the Yankees, Hammel was optioned to Durham, where the Rays wanted him to return to being a starter. Now they want him to make the change at the Major League Level.
"We're thinking he might be able to go 90 [pitches] next time out," Maddon said. "With him, that's a potential six innings."
Hammel threw 68 pitches in four innings Saturday.
"I'll be just fine," Hammel said. "I've been blessed with a rubber arm; it's a noodle."
Hammel will get a good shot at joining the rotation for the remainder of the season, but he will be under the watchful eye of the manager. Offering a vote of confidence Maddon added, "He's not on a short leash."
Coolbaugh tragedy: Mike Coolbaugh, coach of the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, died Sunday night after being struck in the head by a line drive while serving as the first-base coach.
The former Major Leaguer was on the minds of many inside the Rays' clubhouse prior to Tuesday night's game against the Orioles.
"It's a tragedy," Greg Norton said. "I feel for his family and kids. You also have to worry that the kid who hit the ball is going to be OK. That's got to be just a crushing blow to the player. It's not like he did it on purpose."
Looking to the future, Rays coaches Tom Foley and George Hendrick, who coach third and first base respectively, did not believe there would be any changes, such as coaches wearing helmets, as a result of the tragedy.
Foley said, "you don't think about" getting hit when you're on the field.
"I'll just do the same thing that I do," Foley added. "And hope I stay lucky."
"[Getting hit] does cross your mind, Hendrick said. "I'll be down in the bullpen. When left-handers come up, I'll be down in the bullpen."
Witasick status: Jay Witasick went on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with a right elbow strain. The injury did not suppress the right-hander's sense of humor.
"One of the cool things is I'm going to be one of the first ones to do the human orangutan transplant," Witasick said. "We're going to make that happen. ... [The orangutan arm] might be a little hairy, but if they can get it on right..."
On the serious side, Witasick said he would take a couple of days off.
"Let things calm down a little bit," Witasick said. "There's obviously a little bit of swelling going on. Some parts probably moved that weren't supposed to move. Other than that, [it's] a little strain; [I'll] give it a little time to heal. As far as I know, I'm going to be throwing in a couple of days. I'm going to try and make it a quick exit, easy on, easy off [the DL]."
Crawford back: Carl Crawford was back in the lineup on Tuesday after sitting out two games with a slightly sprained ankle. "I'm 100 percent," said Crawford, noting he did not see any restrictions on what he did on the field.
Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Orioles on Wednesday night in a 7:05 p.m. ET contest at Camden Yards. Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine (1-5, 5.37) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by left-hander Erik Bedard (9-4, 3.12).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.