Sweeney, Torres Sweeten Kazmir Deal

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—The success Sean Rodriguez has had this season in Tampa Bay, especially in contrast to the struggles Scott Kazmir is going through for the Angels, is enough for the Rays to feel good about last August's controversial trade.

But they feel even better when they look ahead to the future contributions they expect from the other two players they got in the deal, lefthander Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney.

"We liked the idea of getting Sean here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "At that time obviously a lot of people were disappointed that we traded Kaz. But it's not only about Sean; it's about the other guys involved. Everybody is going to talk about Sean, but those other two guys are very interesting also."

Torres, 22, was 9-3, 2.96 in his first 18 starts for Double-A Montgomery with 98 strikeouts in 911⁄3 innings. He also threw a scoreless inning for the World team in the Futures Game, following up on the solid impression he made on the Rays coaches during a brief stint in major league spring training.

"Alex Torres is having a really good year in Double-A right now," Maddon said. "He's a little lefthander (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) with really good stuff. He's not tall but he throws in the low- to mid-90s with a great curveball."

Sweeney, 22, was bumped up to Montgomery after a strong start at high Class A Charlotte, hitting .264/.345/.488 with six homers in 121 at-bats. The adjustment to Double-A has been a bit tougher, as he was hitting .199/.261/.280 with 50 strikeouts in 161 at-bats as a Biscuit.

Still, Maddon said, the lefty swinger has "really a nice approach and some power."
Overall, Maddon said, "We liked the deal when we made it. We knew we were giving up a good pitcher at the time. I know Kaz has been struggling right now but I really believe they are going to work that out over there. Right now, you can just talk about what we got, and we like what we got. Sean's been a big part of our success in the first half, and those other two guys are going to help us in the future."


• Through 85 games at Triple-A Durham, Dan Johnson was leading the International League with 25 homers and 82 RBIs and playing third base as well as his customary first.

• Low Class A Bowling Green players swept the organization's June awards, with second baseman Tyler Bortnick named the player of the month and lefthander Kyle Lobstein the top pitcher.