Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Devil Rays want to pick up controversial player

AP , TORONTO

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are trying to close a deal to sign Dominican infielder Julio Lugo, arrested last month for allegedly attacking his wife.

Lugo was given his unconditional release by the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

Lugo was arrested April 30 following a loss to the Atlanta Braves and charged with misdemeanor assault.

"We're in the process of trying to finalize a deal with Julio Lugo and we hope to have some type of announcement tomorrow," Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar said.

Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said Lugo would likely start at shortstop. Starting shortstop Ray Ordonez is expected to miss at least three more weeks with a strained knee.

"Everybody makes mistakes," Piniella said. "You learn from mistakes and you go forward. At the same time we're looking to improve our baseball team. I don't think there are too many people walking streets that wouldn't take back a couple of things that they've done in their life, including myself."

Lugo, who started for Houston, batted .246 with two RBIs in 65 at-bats this season.

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