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Smith serves his suspension

Bobby Smith sat out Friday to serve his one-game suspension for fighting with Yankees catcher Jorge Posada in the July 1 game at Tropicana Field.

Smith, who also was fined $1,000, appealed his punishment during a brief hearing Thursday in Cleveland with Major League Baseball vice president Frank Robinson and MLB president Paul Beeston.

"It was just like court a little bit," Smith said. "I explained why I felt I shouldn't have the same suspension as Posada because he instigated it, but I guess they didn't see it that way."

The incident started when Smith struck out and appeared to bump into Posada. Posada pushed him back hard, and the two ended up on the ground throwing punches as both benches emptied.

Posada dropped his appeal and sat out a July 17 game.

Because Smith grew up and still lives in Oakland, he usually has quite a few family and friends come out to watch him when the Rays are here. "Not tonight," he said. "I guess I should have dropped the appeal so I wouldn't have had to miss any games in Oakland, huh?"

Though the timing seemed bad, the night off actually might have done Smith some good. He has been in a major slump, with two hits and 21 strikeouts in his past 45 at-bats, including eight strikeouts in his past 10 trips to the plate.

"Hitting is all about timing, and I don't have the best timing right now," Smith said. "I'm going to strike out a lot even when I'm hot, but I'm striking out a little bit too much."

RUPE REPORT: Ryan Rupe was said to be in good health and in good spirits after being released from a Cleveland hospital, the day after being treated for a blood clot in his right arm that likely will end his season.

"He feels really good about the whole thing," trainer Jamie Reed said after a midday conversation with Rupe. "I think he was more relieved over the fact that they took care of it."

Rupe is being treated with a mild blood thinner. He was expected to return to St. Petersburg.

HISTORICAL MOMENT: Kenny Kelly, who gave up playing quarterback at the University of Miami to play baseball full time, apparently isn't easily impressed. Kelly, who was guaranteed a call-up as part of his contract, made his big-league debut Thursday in Cleveland, pinch running for Aubrey Huff during the seventh-inning rally. "It wasn't that big a thing," he said. But, Kelly was told, his name is now in a major-league box score. "That's not the way I want it to be," he said.

COME MONDAY: Manager Larry Rothschild said he wasn't sure who would take's Rupe place in the rotation Monday. Travis Harper, who replaced Rupe on Wednesday, would seem to be the likely choice, with Dave Eiland and Dan Wheeler other possibilities. "I'll probably have to wait and see how we use the bullpen," Rothschild said.

MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham took a 2-1 lead in its best-of-five first-round playoff series against Indianapolis with an 11-3 win Friday. The Bulls won 9-0 Thursday. Mickey Callaway was the winning pitcher and Toby Hall drove in six runs. Princeton's Kelly Eddlemon was named third baseman on the rookie-level Appalachian League All-Star team and Dan Dement was tabbed the top utility infielder. Orlando's Paul Hoover was named the Double-A Southern League's top utilityman. He played 41 games at third, 27 in the outfield, 23 at catcher, 9 at shortstop, 7 at first and 2 at second.

OLYMPIC UPDATE: Matt White pitched a perfect fifth inning as the U.S. Olympic team beat Australia 3-1 in exhibition play at Gold Coast, Australia. Brent Abernathy has started at second in both exhibitions.

_ MARC TOPKIN

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