Almost gametime in Tampa..

April 18, 2007 | Nestor Aparicio

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — Since the game starts in a little while (and I’m kinda hungry), I’ll keep this one brief.

Sam Perlozzo held his pre-game chat in the visiting dugout here at Tropicana Field, and again stressed the importance of the bullpen and the need for the team to get all of its parts back.

To wit, Ramon Hernandez appeared in the visiting clubhouse at 3:55 and was well received.  He actually stepped in for batting practice and could be activated as early as tomorrow for the 3 p.m. cap to the three-game stand vs. the Devils Rays.

Jay Payton is running at “85-90 percent,” according to Perlozzo, and could be in the lineup as early as Friday night, after a two-game stint in Norfolk.

Corey Patterson will be coming back to the team tomorrow morning, and should arrive at the ballpark before game time if his flight arrives on time.

Steve Trachsel will take the hill tonight here, his third start as an Oriole.

“I hadn’t seen him work too much, before he came here,” Perlozzo said. “It’s been a learning experience but he’s a veteran guy and he takes his time. He won 15 games last year and we can see why.”

Trachsel has made two impressive starts (13.2 IP, 7 H, 3 W) on two miserable outdoor evenings in New York and at Camden Yards last week against the Royals.

Tonight, he will inherit a light-hitting Devil Rays lineup and perfect indoor conditions at the Trop.

NOTES:

Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon appeared on The Rob Long Show tonight and later pointed out to me the importance of Kevin Millar and his make-up in last night’s game and lineup.

“That walk in the seventh set up everything they did,” Maddon said. “If he had hit a home run there, it wouldn’t have hurt us as much as that big-inning he set up with the walk.”

Lefty reliever John Parrish continues to get praise for his contributions, coming into yet another tight situation last night and escaping unscathed.

“He really wasn’t counted on,” Perlozzo said. “So it’s really been a nice surprise.”

Leo Mazzone and I had a brief chat and he praised Parrish’s “character” and “aggressiveness” when he takes the mound. “He attacks hitters, lefty or righty. He’s fearless and he throws strikes.”

*****

I will be checking in later with some “gossip” from the press area and my tales of the clubhouses and baseball from Tampa.

In the meantime, enjoy the game…and FREE THE BIRDS!

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