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Cuban Ray hits his mark quickly

He's in a new country, with a new organization, struggling with a new language. So the Devil Rays wanted to make sure Roberto Colina had time to relax and adjust before thrusting him into the lineup.

They need not have worried.

The guy looks pretty comfortable in a baseball uniform.

The power-hitting first baseman, who signed with the Rays after defecting from Cuba, made his debut Tuesday as a designated hitter in a game against Yankees minor-leaguers.

Inserted in the fifth inning, Colina walked his first time at the plate and rapped a single to rightfield in his next trip.

"It's still early, but we've liked everything we've seen from him," Rays director of player personnel Bill Livesey said. "He makes good contact and he hits with impact. He's been hitting lots of line drives and some of those are going to end up going over fences in games."

Despite the late start, Colina is expected to be the first baseman for St. Petersburg in the Florida State League this season.

DOING THE JOB: While Matt White and Bobby Seay have commanded much of the attention this spring with their enormous contracts and potential, the Rays have gotten stellar pitching performances from John Kaufman and Matt Williams.

Kaufman was the winner in Tuesday's 12-2 win over the Yankees, throwing three innings of one-hit ball. In two outings, Kaufman has gone five innings, giving up one hit and striking out six.

"I've been throwing okay, but I've struggled in the first inning both times," said Kaufman, a former Tampa Chamberlain and University of Florida star. "I've got to work on getting off to a better start. But that's what the spring is for."

Williams, a former fourth-round pick of the Indians, has pitched four innings, giving up one hit and striking out four.

LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN: With other organizations trimming their rosters, the Rays will keep an eye on available players.

"We're not looking at wholesale changes, but there could be isolated cases we'll consider," Livesey said. "We have a few need areas that we might be able to address that way."

GAME RECAPS: Outfielder Sean Twitty hit a double and a 400-foot homer in the victory over the Yankees. Twitty has five RBI in the past two games.

The Rays' Charleston team lost 6-2 to the Cardinals, although starting pitcher Cedrick Bowers looked good. The Rays' fourth-round pick last summer, Bowers threw three innings, giving up one run on three hits and striking out five.

UPCOMING: The St. Petersburg Rays play the Blue Jays at Huggins-Stengel today, with former major-leaguer Rick White expected to pitch the final inning in relief. The Charleston team is at the Phillies.

Matt White is scheduled to make his second start Thursday at Huggins-Stengel against the Yankees. Seay's next appearance is scheduled for Friday at the Cardinals Complex against the Cardinals.

Did you know?

Like any good pitcher, Trent Brown understands the importance of good pitch location. And like any good angler, he knows the importance of a good fishing location. So along with Rays pitcher Everard Griffiths and catcher Hector Salinas, Brown has been driving all over Tampa Bay at night in search of fishing holes. Brown has asked his mother to ship his rod and reel so he doesn't have to keep renting or borrowing poles. "We're constantly out there," Brown said. "It's inexpensive and it gives us something to do at night. You can only sit and watch TV in the hotel for so long." Having grown up in Arizona, Brown was exclusively a freshwater man. Learning the saltwater gig has been an adventure. "We were out at St. Pete Beach wading in the water in our bare feet and I had a crab go across my foot," Brown said. "I went screaming out of there." The players have been tossing their catches back or giving them to nearby fishermen. Brown said Griffiths has taken the biggest prize, a 10-pound snook that was tossed back.

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