With time to think, Hall finally sees light
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sitting in a motel room in Scranton, Pa., on Friday, Toby Hall said he finally got it.
That after four days of anger and disappointment, of reflection and rationalization, he was able to see what went wrong during his first two months in the big leagues, and acknowledged the mistakes he made that led to what he considered a surprising demotion to Triple A last week.
Hall, 26, admitted he started to believe the hype, that he put too much pressure on himself to do well, and that sometimes he'd forget he still was a first-year big-leaguer with a lot to learn.
He also suggested the Rays might have given him too much when they made him the starter ahead of proven veteran John Flaherty.
"I feel he's still an everyday catcher in the big leagues, and for me to be his backup would probably have been an easier transition for me to the big leagues," Hall said. "All these great catchers in the league went through that situation, where they watched and maybe played a couple games a week and learned.
"I understand them saying, "Hey, you're the everyday guy,' because of what I'm capable of doing. It's just with Flash, everything happens for a reason, and this is his job. Whether it's with us or another team, he should be an everyday catcher in the big leagues. It's a tough situation there where I'm catching in front of an everyday catcher. When I'm back there playing, I'm thinking, "How am I playing in front of him?' "
Hall said as soon as he joined the Durham team Thursday, he realized how bad the situation had been with the Rays, and how much better he felt about things.
"I'd never really failed, so it got to the point when you keep seeing .190 (batting average), .200, it eats at you," Hall said. "I was trying too many different things. This allowed me to go back and play the way Toby Hall is capable of playing, keeping it simple. ... When I had 50-million things in my head and tried to perform that way it didn't work. (Thursday) stepping into the batter's box, I didn't feel one bit of pressure."
Hall said he considers it a lesson learned, and looks forward to doing what he has to in Durham to get another chance with the Rays.
"Now that I've looked at the big picture, I know how to react in the big leagues," he said. "If I was to go up right now I'd be a totally different person. I wouldn't put as much pressure on myself and when you play with less pressure on yourself you're able to do what you're capable of doing."
BOBBING ALONG: Jason Tyner said he was guilty of the same thing, and had also seen the difference after a few days with the Bulls.
"I've already relaxed a little bit," he said. "In two games it seems like everything came back to me. I feel like pretty much my old self."
He said he heard the Rays postponed today's planned giveaway of Tyner bobblehead dolls, a decision said to be made by the sponsor, Office Depot, with plans to schedule it for later in the season.
"I'd like to be there," Tyner said.
MONEY BUSINESS: Managing general partner Vince Naimoli said he was concerned some teams could go bankrupt but that the Rays were in no such danger, even if there was a protracted work stoppage.
Using MLB-released figures for operating income, New York attorney Doug Pappas, who researches baseball business issues and wrote an article for ESPN.com, suggests that without significant changes in their strategy or the game's economics, the Rays could be two years from insolvency. He did note that they had started to cut their payroll.
'ROID RAGE: Amid last week's talk of steroid use and abuse, struggling outfielder Greg Vaughn found a way to interject some humor at his expense.
"I must have a bad batch because evidently everyone using steroids is winning MVP awards and hitting balls out of sight," he said. "Something must not be right.
"If I was using them I think I got shortchanged a little bit."
INDEPENDENTS' DAY: The Rays have an alumni chapter in the independent Atlantic League. Aaron Ledesma and Rusty Meacham play for the Long Island Ducks, Danny Clyburn for Newark and Trevor Enders for Nashua.
HOO-RAYS: Manager Hal McRae has an interesting idea: Allow umpires to use instant replay at the Trop to make rulings on balls that hit the catwalks. ... Ex-Ray Bobby Smith signed with Milwaukee's Triple-A team in Indianapolis. ... During Saturday's pregame ceremony, Naimoli said: "I can assure you we'll be here for many years to come."
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