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Gaillard back to minors

As an expansion franchise, the Devil Rays like to keep their options open.

So when they had to make room on the roster for pitcher Julio Santana, claimed on waivers from Texas, they made what may have been the most logical move, sending reliever Eddie Gaillard to Triple-A Durham.

Gaillard had options left, so the Rays could send him to the minors without losing him. So did Ramon Tatis, but the Rays decided to stick with their lone left-hander for now.

Other relievers, such as Dan Carlson and Albie Lopez, are out of options and would have to be exposed to waivers and possibly claimed by another team. (Players generally have three options, meaning they can be sent to the minors and recalled during three seasons.)

"He pitched well here and he's been impressive," manager Larry Rothschild said. "But we need to get all the arms we can."

Gaillard, 27, did a solid job, allowing two runs on one hit during five appearances since being claimed on waivers from Detroit and called up April 18. He was disappointed but not surprised by the decision.

"As soon as I saw it this morning in the paper, I knew," Gaillard said. "It's frustrating. All I could do when I was here was throw good and I thought I did. It's a numbers game. A lot of times it comes down to options."

ANOTHER DAY AT THE TROP: The lights have gone out. Balls have bounced off catwalks. And Tuesday, there was a new twist at the Devil Rays' increasingly unique home field.

A foul popup by A.J. Hinch shattered a light bulb and scattered glass on the field in the eighth inning, causing a four-minute delay but no injuries. "That," Hinch said, "was kind of a freaky deal."

The ball struck the light and changed direction, enough so that Rays 3B Bobby Smith was unable to make the catch. An instant later, pieces of glass came raining down on Smith, SS Kevin Stocker and A's coach Ron Washington. "I didn't know it was coming," Stocker said. "I don't think it was coming down fast enough to hurt you."

"I just wanted to get out of the way," Washington said. "I didn't want to get cut. But it would have been a good (lawsuit)."

It all made for another interesting day for umpire Jim McKean, a St. Petersburg resident who worked the game when the lights went out and White Sox batter Frank Thomas hit the catwalk; was in New York when a 500-pound joint fell into the Yankee Stadium stands; and was in Seattle when an earthquake struck.

McKean said after the light shattered he went looking for a hard hat to wear as a joke. "At least they're getting it all out of the way in the first month."

TONY'S TROUBLES: Tony Saunders said he wasn't sure what went wrong Monday night, when he lost a 5-0 lead. Saunders said he wasn't tired and felt fine. "It's just one of those things," he said. "It's done and it's over with."

METRODOME MYSTIQUE: The Rays may be used to Tropicana Field, which has its share of special features, but they step into an even quirkier place tonight when they face the Twins at the Metrodome. The biggest issue is the white roof, which often causes players to lose track of the ball. "You really can't take your eye off it," OF Dave Martinez said.

IN REFLECTION: Roberto Hernandez watched video of his performance in Monday's ninth-inning loss but still didn't have any answers about what went wrong. "I learned a big lesson from learning to forget it," he said. "By the time I left the clubhouse (Monday) it was behind me. In '94-'95 it would have stuck with me for about a week."

RAYS WRAPUP: The Tropicana Field turf was rolled up right after the game to make room for a home show. After not losing a one-run game in their first 21, the Rays have lost three straight.

_ MARC TOPKIN

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