© St. Petersburg Times, published June 8, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- If Bubba Trammell didn't already feel at home, the five neon green signs held by fans in Section 142 at Tropicana Field that spelled out his first name probably did the trick for the former Rays fan favorite.
"I can't say enough about the way I was treated when I played here," said Trammell, who started in rightfield in front of what once was his personal cheering section. "It's nice to be appreciated like that, makes you feel good as a player to have that kind of fan support. You get booed a lot in this game, so it's nice to have fans like that."
Trammell's part-time efforts in the Rays' first seasons inspired the "142 Crew," which held an impromptu reunion for Trammell's return. His first trip to Tropicana since being traded two years ago was highlighted by a home run to deep leftfield, and he also walked twice and scored three runs in the Padres' 8-4 win.
The trip also was special for the 30-year-old because his family lives in St. Petersburg.
"It felt really good to get home, just because I get to see my family; this is the first time in about two months," said Trammell, who was traded to the Mets and subsequently the Padres in 2000.
After never getting more than 283 at-bats in three seasons with the Rays, he had 490 in San Diego last season and finished with 25 home runs and 92 RBIs. He carried a .204 average into Friday's game.
NEW LINEUP: Rays manager Hal McRae unveiled a new batting order, most notably with centerfielder Randy Winn batting leadoff for the third time this season.
"Winn looks comfortable leading off," McRae said before the game. "We've been searching for a leadoff man. It's the spot we're still searching for. We don't really have an on-base percentage guy to put up there."
Winn, who primarily has batted second, said where he bats has little effect on his approach.
"It's basically been all the same," said Winn, who went 3-for-5 with his 12th stolen base and one run scored. "I've liked everywhere I've hit. Leading off is nothing new, but however Hal wants to put me in there is fine with me."
In a far less permanent move, McRae had leftfielder Greg Vaughn bat second, a switch he tried Wednesday in the Rays' win at Toronto. McRae said he was "trying to jump-start Vaughn" with the move, but the slugger didn't seem too excited.
"He has his reasoning for it," said Vaughn, who went 2-for-5 to raise his average to .148. "I'm not the boss. I just work here."
Second baseman Brent Abernathy, who batted leadoff in his past 29 appearances, was dropped to seventh and went 0-for-4.
GOOD MECHANICS: First-year Bucs coach Jon Gruden threw out the first pitch, something he never had a chance to do in Oakland while coaching the Raiders.
"I've always been a big baseball fan," he said. "I played in high school, but I couldn't hit the curveball so I got into football. This will be the old backyard overhead lob. I'll take my time and measure it and I just hope I can get it 90 feet."
The distance actually is 60 feet, 6 inches, and in what he can only hope won't reflect his offense this fall, he came up a few inches short on his throw, which McRae caught on a bounce.
THIS AND THAT: The Rays signed three draft picks from this week's amateur draft: left-hander Mike Prochaska, a 16th-round pick from North Carolina State; catcher Ernest Woodruff, a 17th-round pick from Gulf Coast Community College; and outfielder Adam Nikolic, a 24th-round selection from Cal State-Northridge. ... The Rays promoted Orlando right-hander Gerardo Garcia, who pitched the third no-hitter in Rays history last month, to Triple-A Durham. Closer Austin Coose and outfielder Irwin Centeno, both South Atlantic League All-Stars, were promoted from Class A Charleston to Bakersfield of the California League. ... Joe Kennedy, Jared Sandberg, Jason Smith and Jason Jimenez will sign autographs at the park from 4:55 to 5:25 p.m. today.