Rupe had looked sharp enough in spring training where he was a non-roster invitee, to gain some copnsideration as a possible for the Dodger staff. He didn't make that but he was the opening day starter for Las Vegas. Looked good , too, until an abdominal strain put him on the sidlines indefinitely.
The 29-year-old righthander had once been a second-team All-American at Texas A & M who rose to become Tampa Bay's Rookie of the Year in 1999. True, he was only 8-9 that season but that was for a losing team, remember. He had a fast ball that reached the mid-90's, a slider that was gaining respect and a change-up that was the devil itself to deal with.
Then came seasons of 5-6, 5-12 and 5-10 plus arm problems that saw him drift off to the Red Sox in 2003. They didn't keep him , either, and he wound up in Japan last season . There batters treated him with even less respect as a 1-4, 6.67 mark indicates.
Still, his arm was showing signs of life so the Dodgers have given him his shot . That, however, is in abeyance while he recovers from this latest setback.
Only four players had been chosen in the 2000 draft when the Expos selected Wayne out of Stanford . He had four pitches- an 88-91 fast ball, slider. curve and change , none of which caused hitters to quake. He did, however, know how to move them around, keep opposing hitters off-balance and , most of all, win. When he was 9-2 at AA Harrisburg in just his second season, he seemed on the way.
The next year, he was part of a multi-player deal with the Marlins in which Carl Pavano and Cliff Floyd were the principals. He made it up to Florida at the end of the season for a 2-3, 5.35 record. Then, he , too, had arm troubles and after two more tries to make it up to stay, was placed on waivers a short time ago.
The Dodgers claimed him, sent him down to Vegas where in his first try, he faced three batters and failed to retire any of them. His second effort was much better . Still, he has an ERA higher than the price of a gallon of gas at this time.
Wayne, a 26-year-old , 6-3, 205-pound righthander, and Rupe are thus both pitchers who once seemed to be on their way to becoming solid major leaguers. Now, they share the task in trying to stay away from the land the game forgot.
Those Were the Days
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