By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2002
WILSON ALVAREZ, No. 40
AGE: 32B/T: L/L
BORN: Maracaibo, Venezuela.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as a free agent in December 1997.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $8-million in final season of five-year, $35-million deal.
'01 REVIEW: Missed season rehabilitating from May 2000 shoulder surgery. ... Made nine rehab appearances in extended spring training and nine rehab starts for Double-A Orlando and Triple-A Durham.
DID YOU KNOW?: Alvarez last pitched in a major-league game Oct. 2, 1999. ... His 86 victories are more than any other pitcher from Venezuela. ... Was 21 when he threw a no-hitter in his second major-league start. ... Had a 15-game win streak for the White Sox from August 1993-May 1994.
JESUS COLOME, No. 46
BORN/LIVES: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Oakland with cash in July 2000 trade for Jim Mecir and Todd Belitz.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $215,000 in a one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Called up in late June then again for good in late July. .... Pitched better with Rays than at Triple-A Durham. ... Allowed opponents a .208 average, fourth-best among AL rookies. ... Was tougher on left-handers (.188) than right-handers (.220). ... Was 0-3 with an 8.03 ERA for Durham at time of first promotion.
DID YOU KNOW?: Colome hit 98 mph on the Tropicana Field radar gun in his first major-league appearance and has been clocked elsewhere at 100. ... Started playing baseball at age 11 after a coach noticed him selling oranges outside a ballfield near San Pedro. ... Is the youngest of eight children.
DOUG CREEK, No. 38
BORN: Winchester, Va.
LIVES: Palm Harbor.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor-league free agent in February 2000.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $685,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Made opening day roster for first time since 1996 with Giants. ... Appeared in career-high 66 games, a club record for lefties. ... Ranked fifth among AL relievers with 9.48 strikeouts per nine innings. ... Allowed .233 average overall, tied for sixth in league, and .198 to left-handers. DID YOU KNOW?: Creek is an avid outdoorsman. ... Was inducted into the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame in 2000. ... Played football and baseball and wrestled at Martinsburg (W.Va.) High School. ... Spent the 1998 season in Japan, pitching for Hanshin. ... Pitched for the St. Petersburg Cardinals in 1992.
JOE KENNEDY, No. 17
BORN: LaMesa, Calif.
LIVES: HOW ACQUIRED: Rays' eighth-round pick in 1998 draft.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $225,000 in a one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Rose from Double-A Orlando to Triple-A Durham to majors by June. ... Was named the team's outstanding rookie by the local baseball writers. ... Won first two starts (the first AL pitcher to do so since Chicago's Kip Wells in 1999), had seven-game losing streak, won last four (beating Eric Milton and Roger Clemens). ... Had 12 "quality" starts and went six or more innings in 16 of his 20 starts. ... His 4.44 ERA was third-best among AL rookies. ... Was 4-0, 0.19 at Orlando and 2-0, 2.42 at Durham. .... Was named Rays minor-league pitcher of the year.
DID YOU KNOW?: Kennedy had not pitched above Class A before the 2001 season. ... Struck out 17 in a July 2000 game for Charleston (S.C.). ... Was not drafted out of El Cajon Valley (Calif.) High School. ... Played baseball, basketball, football and volleyball in high school.
STEVE KENT, No. 51
BORN: Frankfurt, Germany.
LIVES: Kileen, Texas.
HOW ACQUIRED: In December 2001 trade from Anaheim as a Rule 5 draft pick from Seattle.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $200,000 in a one-year deal. Rays retain rights. Must be kept on major-league roster all season or offered on waivers.
'01 REVIEW: Had first full pro season at Class-A San Bernadino. ... Went 14 consecutive outings without allowing a run. ... Held left-handers to .075 average (3-for-40). ... Allowed two home runs in 651/3 innings.
DID YOU KNOW?: Kent was a ninth-round pick in 1999 draft. ... Has 177 strikeouts in 155 innings. ... Pitched at Florida International University and Odessa (Texas) Junior College.
TRAVIS PHELPS, No. 61
[Times photo: Michael Rondou]
Travis Phelps was third among AL rookies in appearances (49), ERA (3.48) and saves (5). He is the lowest-drafted player to reach the majors, being drafted by the Rays in the 89th round in 1996.
BORN: Neosho, Mo.
LIVES: Rocky Comfort, Mo.
HOW ACQUIRED: Rays' 89th-round pick in 1996 draft.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $218,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Made major-league debut during brief April stint, then came up in May to stay. ... Ranked third among AL rookies in appearances (49), ERA (3.48) and saves (5). ... His May 29, 2001, save at Oakland was his first since Crowder (Mo.) Junior College. ... Allowed a .226 overall average, .182 to first batters faced.
DID YOU KNOW?: Phelps is the lowest-drafted player to reach the major leagues. ... Grew up in Wheaton, Mo., where his family owns a cattle and chicken farm and the population is 637. ... Was 5 feet 5 and weighed 155 pounds as a high school senior.
RYAN RUPE, No. 24
AGE: 27B/T: R/R
HOW ACQUIRED: Rays' sixth-round pick in 1998 draft.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $575,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Posted AL's second-lowest winning percentage (.294), an ERA that would have been worst in the league (6.59) if he had thrown enough innings to qualify and a team-record 30 home runs allowed. ... Spent one week in the bullpen and three at Triple-A Durham. ... Allowed a .352 average with runners in scoring position.
DID YOU KNOW?: Rupe was the third player from the '98 draft to reach the majors, following Detroit's Jeff Weaver and St. Louis' J.D. Drew. ... His wife, Bryn Blalack, played pro soccer for the Atlanta Beat. ... Was voted team's top 1999 rookie by local baseball writers. ... Made just 18 minor-league appearances before reaching the majors. ... Holds an economics degree from Texas A&M.
JORGE SOSA, No. 79
AGE: B/T: S/RHT/WT: 6-2/177
BORN: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
LIVES: San Jose, Dominican Republic
HOW ACQUIRED: Claimed on waivers from Milwaukee as Rule 5 pick from Seattle.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $200,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Converted from outfielder to pitcher and split season between short-season Class-A Everett and Class-A Wisconsin. ... Was named most valuable pitcher for Everett. ... Named to Northwest League all-star team. ... Held opponents to .134 average.
DID YOU KNOW? Sosa says he is a distant cousin of Cubs star Sammy Sosa. ... Hit .222 -- and only 11 homers -- in six seasons as an outfielder in the low end of the Colorado farm system. ... Was a minor-league Rule 5 draft pick by Seattle.
TANYON STURTZE, No. 49
BORN: Worcester, Mass.
LIVES: St. Petersburg.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Chicago White Sox in May 2000 trade for Tony Graffanino.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $295,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Voted team MVP by local baseball writers. ... Moved from bullpen to rotation May 8 and went 11-10 with 4.32 ERA as a starter. ... Rays were 15-12 in his 27 starts (including 11-5 in last 16), 47-88 in other games. ... Beat AL champ Yankees three times. ... Logged 1951/3 innings, second-most in team history. ... Had a 3.84 ERA on the road, 5.04 at home.
DID YOU KNOW?: Sturtze is named after the Three Musketeers character D'Artagnan. ... Was named by T&L Golf magazine one of the major leagues' top golfers. ... Has handled 46 chances without an error during his career. ... Drafted originally by Oakland and pitched previously for the Cubs, Rangers and White Sox.
PAUL WILSON, No. 41
AGE: 29 B/T: R/R
LIVES: Palm City.
HOW ACQUIRED: From New York Mets with Jason Tyner in July 2000 trade for Bubba Trammell and Rick White.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $1.2-million in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: First full season in the majors had three parts. Went 2-7 with 6.43 ERA in first 12 starts; spent two months in the bullpen; went 6-2, 2.55 in final 12 starts. ... His 2.39 second-half ERA was fifth-best in majors. ... Had 17-inning scoreless streak from July 4-31.
DID YOU KNOW?: Wilson was the No.1 pick of the 1994 draft by the Mets after a stellar career at Florida State. ... Led the Seminoles to the 1994 College World Series. ... Was inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in September 2000. ... Missed parts of 1997-98 seasons and all of 1999 due to shoulder and elbow surgeries.
ESTEBAN YAN, No. 43
BORN: Campina del Seibo, Dominican Republic.
LIVES: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Baltimore in expansion draft, Rays' No.9 selection.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $1.5-million in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: In first season as Rays closer, converted 22 of 31 save opportunities. ... Nine blown saves matched major-league high. ... Converted first five and last six save opportunities. ... Allowed .288 average to first batters. ... Average of 1.59 walks per nine innings was fifth-best among AL relievers. ... Spent time on DL because of sore shoulder.
DID YOU KNOW?: Yan homered on the first pitch of his first professional at-bat June 4, 2000, against the Mets. ... Has pitched in more games for the Rays (211) than anyone. ... Didn't start pitching until he was 17; originally was an outfielder and catcher. ... Is one of 10 children.
VICTOR ZAMBRANO, No. 60
BORN: Los Teques, Venezuela.
LIVES: Valencia, Venezuela.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor-league free agent in March 1996.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $215,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Recalled from Triple-A on June 21. ... Ranked third among AL rookies with 3.16 ERA and .201 opponents average (including .113 with runners in scoring position). ... Six wins matched Anaheim's Ben Weber for most by AL rookie reliever, and five-game win streak matched longest by any AL rookie. ... Had 162/3-inning scoreless streak. ... Nearly as tough on left-handers (.205 average) as right-handers (.198).
DID YOU KNOW?: Zambrano was signed by the Yankees as an infielder and released after two seasons in the low minors. ... Participated in the Rays' first minicamp in June 1996 and played in the first minor-league game June 18, 1996. ... Is the only player from those events to play for the Rays in the majors.
BRENT ABERNATHY, No. 3
LIVES: Marietta, Ga.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Toronto with cash in July 2000 trade for Steve Trachsel and Mark Guthrie.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $215,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Homered for first major-league hit in June 25 debut at Boston. ... Hit in first 10 games, third-longest streak in past 25 years. ... Had three four-hit games. ... Ranked third among AL rookies in average (.270) and on-base percentage (.328). ... Hit .351 with runners in scoring position, second-best on the team.
DID YOU KNOW?: Abernathy was the starting second baseman for the gold-medal winning 2000 U.S. Olympic team. ... Won about $62,000 in Caribbean stud poker at a Brisbane, Australia, casino after being dealt a royal flush. ... Was the final cut in spring training 2001. ... Was national high school athlete of the year in 1996 after hitting .635 at the Lovett School in Atlanta.
STEVE COX, No. 28
BORN: Delano, Calif.
LIVES: Strathmore, Calif.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Oakland in expansion draft, Rays' No.23 selection
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $280,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Spent most of first half shuttling between outfield, bench and first base; made 83 starts. ... Handled 535 chances at first before making first, and only, error. ... Hit .268 with six homers and 23 RBIs in 43 games after Fred McGriff was traded. ... Spent time on DL because of a sore back.
DID YOU KNOW?: Cox was voted team's top 2000 rookie by the local baseball writers and received one third-place vote in the AL balloting. ... Was Rays' minor-league player of the year and Triple-A International League MVP in 1999. ... Is the brother-in-law of former major-leaguer Brant Brown. ... Was a member of teammate Ben Grieve's wedding party.
CHRIS GOMEZ, No. 9
BORN: Los Angeles.
LIVES: Carlsbad, Calif.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as a free agent in June 2001.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $1-million in one-year deal. Rays hold 2003 option.
'01 REVIEW: Joined Rays on July 22 after being released by San Diego and spending a month at Triple-A Durham. ... Hit team shortstop-record eight homers in 189 Tampa Bay at-bats; had one in previous 491. ... His 36 RBIs (in 58 games) also were a team shortstop record. ... Went 7-for-15 with seven RBIs in his first four games for Rays. ... Hit .188 in 40 games for Padres.
DID YOU KNOW?: Gomez had knee surgeries in 1999 and 2000. Also had elbow surgery in 2000. ... Was traded with John Flaherty from Detroit to San Diego in June 1996. .. Played in 1998 World Series (with Greg Vaughn) against Yankees. ... Was a third-round pick in 1992 and a major-leaguer in July 1993; only Jeffrey Hammonds made it quicker from that draft.
RUSS JOHNSON, No. 25
BORN: Baton Rouge, La.
LIVES: Denham Springs, La.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Houston in May 2000 trade for Marc Valdes.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $575,000 in first year of two-year, $1.35-million deal.
'01 REVIEW: Proved again to be a valuable utilityman. ... Made 63 starts -- 31 at second base, 28 at third, two at shortstop, two at DH. ... His .373 average with runners in scoring position topped Rays and .380 on-base percentage was second-best. ... Had 11-game hit streak. ... Hit .362 at home, .235 on road. ... Spent time on DL because of quadriceps strain.
DID YOU KNOW?: Johnson is an avid hunter. ... Received the 2001 Tampa Bay Champion Award, given to the player "who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field." ... Was SEC player of the year at LSU in 1994 and played in College World Series for the Tigers. ... Hit first major-league homer in 1997 off Pedro Martinez.
BOBBY SMITH, No. 20
BORN/LIVES: Oakland, Calif.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Atlanta in expansion draft, Rays' No.6 selection.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $255,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Was opening day starter at second base but designated for assignment after hitting .105 in six games. ... Hit .301 with 22 homers in 107 games at Triple-A Durham, playing all seven infield and outfield positions. ... Went 15-for-24 with 14 RBIs during a seven-game stretch for Bulls.
DID YOU KNOW?: Smith was a unanimous selection to the all-rookie team in 1998 as a third baseman. ... Struck out 30 times in a 59 at-bat stretch in 2000. ... Had an offer to play basketball at Cal with childhood friend Jason Kidd but signed with Braves instead.
JASON SMITH, No. 29
BORN: Meridian, Miss.
LIVES: Coatopa, Ala.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Cubs with Manny Aybar in July 2001 trade for Fred McGriff and cash.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $200,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Made his major-league debut during two brief stints with the Cubs. ... Struck out against Minnesota's Brad Radke in his only big-league at-bat. Was a defensive replacement in his other game. ... Hit combined .240 at Triple-A Iowa and Durham. ... Spent time on the disabled list because of a right hamstring strain.
DID YOU KNOW? Smith was the Cubs' 23rd-round pick in 1996. ... Was a four-year letterman at Demopolis (Ala.) High. ... Has a degree from Meridian (Miss.) Community College. ... Has been on the DL in each of the past three seasons because of hamstring problems. ... Was chosen for the 2000 Southern League and Double-A all-star games.. ...Made 38 errors in 126 games for Class-A Rockford in 1998 and 37 in 119 for Double-A West Tennessee in 2000.
JOHN FLAHERTY, No. 6
BORN: New York.
HOW ACQUIRED: From San Diego in November 1997 expansion draft trade for Brian Boehringer and Andy Sheets.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $3.25-million in final season of three-year, $9-million deal.
'01 REVIEW: Started 38 of first 48 games then only 31 more. ... His 72 games played were the fewest since 1994. ... Hit game-ending homer to beat Twins on Aug. 12. ... Recorded first stolen base and first triple since 1997. ... Missed final month because of a herniated disc in his neck.
DID YOU KNOW?: Flaherty twice was voted winner of the Tampa Bay Champion Award, given to the player "who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field." ... Broke up two near no-hitters in a five-day period during 2000 season. ... Had a 27-game hit streak for San Diego in 1996. ... Joined Fred McGriff as the only players to start all four Rays openers.
TOBY HALL, No. 44
BORN: Tacoma, Wash.
HOW ACQUIRED: Rays' ninth-round pick in 1997 draft.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $210,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Promoted July 26 after stellar performance at Triple-A Durham. ... Homered in first start (July 27) and had winning RBI the next night. ... Had hits in 39 of 46 starts, including three eight-game hit streaks. ... .298 average was third-best among AL rookies (with at least 100 at-bats). ... Hit .347 in August. ... 13 of his 30 RBIs were tying or go-ahead. ... Was named International League MVP and Rays minor-league player of the year for hitting .335 with 19 homers and 72 RBIs in 94 games at Durham. ... Was MVP of Futures Game and played in Triple-A all-star game.
DID YOU KNOW?: Hall was an infielder until midway through his college career. ... Was an All-American at UNLV in 1997. ... Has a brother, Todd, who played minor-league ball. ... Proposed to Karra on Thanksgiving Day (1996) and got married on Valentine's Day (1998).
JASON CONTI, No. 4
HOW ACQUIRED: From Diamondbacks with Nick Bierbrodt and cash in July 2001 trade for Albie Lopez and Mike DiFelice.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $205,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Hit a combined .324 with 14 home runs, 35 doubles and 70 RBI at Triple-A Tucson and Durham. ... Had a 15-game hit streak for Bulls. ... Spent two weeks with Diamondbacks, appearing in five games. ... Went 14-for-24 in a five-game stretch for Tucson.
DID YOU KNOW? Conti will get cash and a World Series ring from the Diamondbacks. ... Singled off Marc Valdes in his major-league debut June 29, 2000. ... Was team MVP at Triple-A Tucson in 2000. ... Was Arizona's minor-league player of the year in 1998 while on loan to Texas' Double-A Tulsa team. ... Helped lead the University of Pittsburgh into the NCAA regionals as a sophomore. ... Was a 32nd-round pick in 1996.
BEN GRIEVE, No. 18
BORN: Arlington, Texas.
LIVES: Flower Mound, Texas.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Oakland with cash in January 2001 three-way trade with Kansas City for Roberto Hernandez and Cory Lidle.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $4-million in third season of a four-year, $13-million deal.
'01 REVIEW: Career-worst season included team- and personal-record 159 strikeouts. ... Reached base in team-record 37 consecutive games. ... Drew a career-high 87 walks. ... Hit .353 as DH (tops in the league), .244 when playing the field. ... Had 19 tying or go-ahead RBIs. ... .117 average with two strikes was third-lowest in AL. ... Hit .583 with bases loaded.
DID YOU KNOW?: Grieve averaged .278, 24 homers and 93 RBIs in three full seasons before joining Rays. ... Was the second overall pick (behind teammate Paul Wilson) in the 1994 draft by Oakland. ... His father, Tom, was the No. 1 pick by Washington in 1966, making them the first father-son first-round combo in draft history. ... Set a league record for left-handers by grounding into 32 double plays in 2000.
JASON TYNER, No. 14
BORN/LIVES: Beaumont, Texas.
HOW ACQUIRED: From New York Mets with Paul Wilson in July 2000 trade for Bubba Trammell and Rick White.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $250,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Set team records for steals (31), infield hits (35) and bunt singles (14) despite spending first six weeks in minors and starting only 89 games. ... Successful on 17 consecutive steals. ... His 24 second-half steals were fourth-most in the majors. ... Had three hit streaks of 10 or more games and three four-hit games. ... Hit .385 with two outs and runners in scoring position, third-best in AL.
DID YOU KNOW?: Tyner has not hit a home run in 1,731 pro at-bats or 794 at-bats at Texas A&M. ... Was the Mets' first-round pick in the June 1998 draft. ... Established the Juliet Tyner Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of his mother, who died in 1998.
GREG VAUGHN, No. 23
BORN: Sacramento, Calif.
LIVES: Elk Grove, Calif.
HOW ACQUIRED: Signed as a free agent in December 1999.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $8.75-million in third season of a four-year, $34-million deal.
'01 REVIEW: Had 21 homers and 60 RBIs at the all-star break, 3 and 22 after. ... Led team with 31 tying or go-ahead RBIs. ... Was named to All-Star team but couldn't play due to hamstring strain. ... Had 27 RBIs in June, tying club record. ... .233 average was second-lowest among AL regulars. ... Had .260 average, 15 homers, 45 RBIs in 57 games as leftfielder; .216-9-37 in 76 as DH. ... Recorded 1,000th RBI on June 12.
DID YOU KNOW?: Vaughn ranks 13th among active players and 63rd overall with 344 home runs. ... Is one of only 15 players to hit as many as 95 homers over two seasons, 1998-99. ... Is looking to become the third player to hit 30-plus homers with four teams. ... Is a cousin of Mets star Mo Vaughn and former Bucs defensive back Ricky Reynolds. ... Graduated from Miami with a finance degree in 1986.
RANDY WINN, No. 2
B/T: S/RHT/WT: 6-2/197
BORN: Los Angeles.
LIVES: Danville, Calif.
HOW ACQUIRED: From Florida in expansion draft, Rays' No.29 selection.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $960,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Took advantage of first full season in majors with career-best performance. ... His 50 RBI were seven shy of previous career total. ... Hit six homers in 429 at-bats; eight in previous 800. ... Ranked sixth in AL with 12 outfield assists, increasing team-best career total to 28. ... Broke up Tim Wakefield's no-hitter with ninth-inning single. ... Stolen-base success rate of 54.5 (12-for-22) was AL's second-lowest.
DID YOU KNOW?: Winn won a new car by making a halfcourt shot at a Jan. 18 Los Angeles Clippers game. ... Was accepted to the Air Force Academy but instead went to Santa Clara to play baseball and basketball, teaming with future NBA guard Steve Nash and playing in the NCAA Tournament. ... Is a cousin of major-leaguer Damon Buford. ... Hit an inside-the-park grand slam on the final day of the 1999 season.
KEVIN McGLINCHY, No. 30
BORN: Malden, Mass.
HOW ACQUIRED: Rule 5 draft pick from Atlanta.
CONTRACT STATUS: Making $300,000 in one-year deal. Rays retain rights.
'01 REVIEW: Missed season after undergoing shoulder surgery March 13. ... Made two rehab appearances in August for Gulf Coast League Braves.
DID YOU KNOW?: McGlinchy jumped from Double A to the majors in 1999, pitching for Atlanta in the playoffs and World Series. ... Developed shoulder problems in 2000. ... Was a fifth-round pick in 1995. ... Played at Central Florida Community College.
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