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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002


BUDDHA BELLY: It's not that Toby Hall has a big thing with Buddhas, those round-bellied symbols of good luck. It's just that someone gave him one in college, he started doing well and ever since he has had one sitting in his locker and another on his dresser at home.

"You just rub his belly," Hall said. "Occasionally, you have to feed him, so I give him some Skittles."

Having gone 1-for-21 in the recent six-game homestand, Hall has given his Buddha some extra attention lately. "I've been rubbing him a lot," Hall said. "He's not a good April guy."

We should have figured this out on our own, but it turns out Hall and pitcher Joe Kennedy were the players seen by New York Post gossipists at the Manhattan hot spot Tao a couple weeks ago rubbing the Buddha.

MAYBE YOU HAVE SOMETHING ELSE?: As lockers go, it's got good size and decent location in a corner of the Rays clubhouse. But, oh, for the bad karma. At one time or another, as memory serves and legend has it, it has been home to Kevin Stocker, who had knee problems and was released; to Scott Aldred, who was discarded and traded for a minor-leaguer; to Dave Eiland, who had repeated injuries and was let go; to Jeff Wallace, who was sent to the minors last season despite a 0.93 ERA and later was injured; and most recently to Tom Martin, who was there for three days when he was diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury.

THE RING IS THE THING: When Jason Conti and Nick Bierbrodt got their rings from Arizona GM Joe Garagiola Jr. last week, that brought the total of World Series championship-winning players in the Rays clubhouse to two. The coaching staff does have some jewelry. Milt May has two championship rings, as a rookie with the 1971 Pirates and a coach with the 1997 Marlins. Hal McRae (1985 Royals), Billy Hatcher (1990 Reds), and Lee May (1985 Royals) each have one. So do trainers Jamie Reed (who was in the Orioles minor-league system in 1983) and Ken Crenshaw (1995 Braves). GM Chuck LaMar and assistants Bart Braun and Scott Proefrock also have rings from the Braves.

EXCERPTED

From the headline on the Minnesota Twins Web site, run by MLB.com, after Tuesday's game in St. Petersburg: "Twins continue to struggle in Tampa."

ONLINE ITEM OF THE WEEK

A 1999 black jersey worn by Miguel Cairo -- with a sales pitch from the seller that "you never know -- the Devil Rays might not be around soon" -- had a high bid of $99.99 Saturday morning on e-Bay.

KENT'S CORNER

An occasional update from 23-year-old rookie pitcher Steve Kent on his first tour of the major leagues:

Kent hardly could believe the offer commonly given to players: Would he be interested in doing a one-hour autograph signing at a local business for $750.

"I was like, "$750? For an hour? Are you sure you're asking me to do it?' " Kent said. "I told them right then, if any more come up to make sure to ask me to do it."

Then his agent got him a gig to sign 1,000 baseball cards for $3 each. Kent says he likes and will continue signing autographs for fans before each home game. But for a guy who made about $6,000 last season at Class A, getting paid to do extras is a new ballgame.

"Last year when I'd go out somewhere to sign all I usually got was a "Thank you,' " he said.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"You don't want to use my batting gloves."

-- GREG VAUGHN, Rays' slumping DH, after Toby Hall asked to borrow some gloves


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