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Buck on Vazquez: exorcising first inning demons was huge

       Whether Javier Vazquez's performance on Saturday translates to future success remains to be seen. But catcher John Buck said he believes it'll boost his confidence level, especially since he was able to finally make it through a first inning without sustaining damage on the scoreboard.

       "He may not want to admit it," Buck said. "But I felt, 'Okay, we got through it.' It's something stupid and little, but he got that little monkey off his back."

       Vazquez had given up at least one run in each ofhis eight previous starts. Not only wasn't Vazquez nicked in the first, but he held the Rays scoreless for all seven innings he was on the mound, holding the Marlins' cross-state brethren to only three hits.

        Buck, who was behind the plate, said that the 1-2-3 first, as well as a couple of good early defensive plays, served to give Vazquez the confidence he's been lacking.

        "There were all these little things that kept biting him in his other outings, and we kind of nipped all those early in the game," Buck said.

        HENSLEY RETURNS -- Clay Hensley comes off the disabled list today and rejoins the bullpen. While he's uncertain of his immediate role, Hensley felt like there's room for improvement, that he wasn't as sharp as he could be before going out with the injury (bruised rib).

        "I wasn't throwing well," Hensley said. "I feel like I wasn't throwing up to my capabilities. I felt a little out of whack with my mechanics and it kind of snowballed on me. I felt like I was pitching well enough to keep us in games. But I didn't feel like I was putting guys away."

        In particular, Hensley was unhappy with his walks (eight in 13 innings).

        "I think a lot of that had to do with I kind of got strikeout hungry and was trying to throw the perfect pitch," he said. "But I'm not going to try to overanalyze it. It's not like I have a seven ERA or anything."

        Hensley said he still feels soreness in the rib area, but not enough to alter the way he throws.

        "It's sore," he said. "But, before, the pain was so bad it was restricting my movement. Now it just feels like I got hit by a baseball, and I don't really feel it when I'm throwing."

        With Hensley coming off the DL and infielder Ozzie Martinez going back to New Orleans, the Marlins now have eight arms in the bullpen, all ready to go if Jay Buente runs into early trouble in what will be his first big-league start.

       -- One roster note for the Rays: shortstop Reid Brignac has been placed on the bereavement list and the Rays have brought up infielder Felipe Lopez to fill his spot.


         Rays: 1. E. Johnson, ss; 2. Damon, lf; 3. Longoria, 3b; 4. Joyce, rf; 5. Upton, cf; 6. Kotchman, 1b; 7. Rodriguez, 2b; 8. Shoppach, c; 9. Shields, p.

         Marlins: 1. Coghlan, cf; 2. Ramirez, ss; 3. Morrison, lf; 4. Sanchez, 1b; 5. Dobbs, 3b; 6. Stanton, rf; 7. Infante, 2b; 8. Hayes, c; 9. Buente, p.