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Rolling the dice on a young arm on the waiver wire

When it comes to the waiver wire in April, the Devil Rays are getting an armful.

For the second time in three weeks, Tampa Bay has acquired a young pitcher with a strong arm but a shaky resume.

Julio Santana, released by the Rangers after compiling an 8.44 ERA in 5 innings, will join the Devil Rays in Minnesota on Wednesday.

The Rays moved Terrell Wade to the 60-day disabled list to get Santana on the 40-man roster but will have to release a player from the 25-man roster in the next two days.

Like Eddie Gaillard, who was claimed on waivers from Detroit this month, Santana is worth a gamble, the Rays believe.

"I talked to (GM) Doug Melvin today and there was no question they didn't want to lose Julio Santana," Rays GM Chuck LaMar said. "They're in a situation where they're trying to win a championship and could not stick with Julio's development any longer."

Santana, 24, began his pro career as a shortstop but was moved to pitcher in 1993. He appeared in 30 games for the Rangers last season, including 14 starts, and was 4-6 with a 6.75 ERA.

"The power is there, but he needs to pitch regularly," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. "He wasn't going to get that chance with us. He's better off because he's going somewhere he can pitch."

JOHNSON UPDATE: Doug Johnson, the Devil Rays prospect and University of Florida quarterback, will have to wait a week before getting his sore shoulder examined. Rays orthopedic surgeon James Andrews is out of the country, so Johnson will not go to Birmingham until next week.

Johnson, meanwhile, will not work out in extended spring training.

"We're comfortable with that and so is the University of Florida," LaMar said. "(UF) has been great. They truly have Doug Johnson's best interests in mind and we do too. It's not a matter of what sport he's going to play or how many he's going to play; it's what is best for Doug right now."

TEAM TAMPA BAY: With area products Kurt Abbott, Dave Magadan and Kenny Rogers, plus a number of family connections for team president Sandy Alderson, the A's felt right at home in Tampa Bay.

"It's kind of weird," said Magadan, who attended Tampa Jesuit. "You want the guys on the team to enjoy the area because you have pride in your hometown. You want the hotel to be nice, you want them to make sure they go to the good restaurants."

Abbott, Magadan and Rogers had about 35 guests among them Monday. Alderson, whose parents and sister live here, played softball with the Half-Century Club on Monday, then hosted about 20 members of the 50-and-over group at the game. His father, John, is 75 and plays regularly. Magadan, meanwhile, got to attend his brother's 40th birthday party.

A LONGER WAIT: Wade expressed disappointment at being shifted to the 60-day disabled list. The left-hander had shoulder surgery last summer and thought he was going to be able to pitch soon. Wade will not be eligible to pitch before June 1. "In a way, I thought I was closer," Wade said. "Maybe they see some things I don't see. I'm not going to worry about it. When I'm ready, I'm ready. I can't make a fuss about it."

BANISHED: The Rays no longer have instructor/counselor Harvey Dorfman in the dugout during games. Teams are allowed six uniformed coaches on the bench, and Dorfman was Tampa Bay's seventh.

The number of coaches became an issue when the Yankees complained about Toronto last week. LaMar said the league has issued a directive instructing teams to comply with the rule. Dorfman, a sports psychologist, will continue to work with players before and after games.

RAYS WRAPUP: Miguel Cairo got the baseball from his first big-league homer by trading an autographed bat with the fan who retrieved the ball. The Athletics have a strong contingent of Tampa Bay area products who were well-represented in the stands. Kurt Abbott, Dave Magadan and Kenny Rogers had about 35 guests among them. Quinton McCracken got his big-league leading sixth outfield assist.

_ JOHN ROMANO

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