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White has low hopes for debut

He is going to be pumped up and he is going to be nervous. But top prospect Matt White says he will keep his professional debut this afternoon in perspective.

"I'm not out to impress anybody," White said. "I'm not going to make a major-league team (today). There's no use going out there trying to blow guys away. I'm going to stick with my regular mechanics and whatever happens, happens."

White is scheduled to pitch the first two innings of the 1 p.m. game at Huggins-Stengel Complex against a team of St. Louis minor-leaguers.

"It's going to be a great thrill for me," White said. "Just to get out there and throw against hitters, to get the adrenaline going. It's going to be a great thing."

White, who signed for an amateur record $10.2-million bonus, said he has certain things he wants to work on today. "I'm going to go out there with a plan. I want to keep my fastball down in the zone and keep my changeup down in the zone," White said. "I'm not so much worried about how many hits I give up, but I am concerned about walks."

WHITE SUNDAY: Today also is a big day for Rick White. The former Pirates pitcher, who is rehabilitating from an arm injury, is scheduled to throw the final inning of the St. Petersburg team's game at Tampa. "I'm ready to go," he said. "I like it when batters are in there. I don't like throwing on the side or in the bullpen. I like it when the adrenaline gets pumping."

White, who has been both a starter and reliever, said the Rays plan to "start me off getting an inning here and there and then build it up."

NO MA: South Korean pitcher Won Ma won't be joining the Rays. Ma was drafted into the military and was unable to avoid service. "He's in another organization now," farm director Tom Foley said.

TOUGH DAY: The Charleston team lost 7-3 to the Phillies minor-leaguers. Pablo Ortega made his first start, allowing one hit, one walk and one strikeout in 1 innings. "I did pretty well," Ortega said through a Times interpreter. "My pitches were a little high but I was in the strike zone. It felt good to get into the rhythm of a game. For the first day, I think it went pretty well."

Mark Hale allowed two hits in 2 innings of relief; Brian Becker's two hits and Tyler Bain's triple were the offensive highlights. "There were a lot of good things out there today," manager Scott Fletcher said. "Some guys, like (Marcus) McCain, hit the ball hard and didn't have anything to show for it."

The Phillies took advantage of the huge rightfield at Huggins-Stengel. Carlos Duncan hit an inside-the-park home run and Rodney Batts stroked a triple.

The St. Petersburg team lost a sloppy 14-11 game to the Blue Jays' Class A team at Dunedin. Marc Niethammer and Andre King hit home runs for the Rays.

MISCELLANY: James Manias starts today for St. Petersburg. Monday, Bobby Seay will make his pro debut for Charleston (against the Phillies at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater) while Mickey Callaway starts for St. Petersburg at Tampa. No.

1 draft pick Paul Wilder is sidelined by a groin strain and may see his first game action at midweek. About 400 people showed up at Huggins-Stengel to watch the first of eight scheduled home games.

Did you know?

Relief pitcher Mark Hale, who lives in a place called Carefree, Ariz., had a really carefree winter in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He helped his uncle, Ron, who skippers the Leylon Sneed, a boat that takes cruise ship passengers on half-day snorkeling trips from St. Thomas to St. John, and also filled in as a lifeguard. "It was a little too stressful," he joked.