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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 9, 2002


WHAT A HOOT: Hal McRae wasn't sure how to describe how his six rookies looked in the Hooters outfits -- white T-shirts and orange short shorts -- they had to wear through the Toronto airport, apparently much to the delight of onlookers at the customs and security lines, and on the flight home Thursday, but he was sure of this much: "It wasn't too good.

"I was surprised at how big their stomachs looked in those outfits," he said. "They all seemed to have little pouches. It wasn't becoming. They weren't very friendly outfits."

IN TOTALITY: Wilson Alvarez went 1,010 days between victories, beating the Indians on Aug. 29, 1999, and the Blue Jays on Wednesday. During that time, the Rays:

Paid Alvarez $21,745,902.

Used 22 starting pitchers.

Won 161 games and lost 252.

Made 16 trades involving 35 players.

Designated Bobby Smith for assignment twice, and released him once.

Saw Jim Morris make his major-league debut, make a movie, and make millions.

B.J. BITS: Top draft pick B.J. Upton didn't just emerge on the scene. He has been something of a prodigy since early childhood, supposedly being clocked throwing 56 mph -- at age 8. . . . Upton already has played at the Trop, dazzling during a showcase event last summer. He ran a blazing 6.4-second 60-yard dash and was clocked throwing 90 mph across the infield. . . . Upton transferred to the private Greenbrier Christian Academy after becoming academically ineligible in the middle of his junior year at Hickory High, the Virginian-Pilot reported. He led the team to a 52-4 record in two years and responded well enough to qualify academically at Florida State, according to coach Towny Townsend. . . . Upton averaged 20 points for Greenbrier's basketball team, and starred as a junior quarterback in football.

ONLINE ITEM OF THE WEEK

A "first-ever" baseball card of ninth-round draft pick Chris Leroux, showing him in action with the Canadian Junior national team, was listed for $9.99 on eBay by Thursday.

KENT'S CORNER

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

Kent knew it was coming, the day when the rookies would come out of the shower to find their clothes replaced by an embarrassing outfit they had to wear home.

"It's one of those things you don't really want to do but you just have to do it and go with it and try to have fun," Kent said.

Having to go through the Toronto airport was bad. But having to wear a tight white T-shirt and skimpy orange short shorts was even worse.

"I'd much rather have worn a dress," Kent said.

Now that's something you don't hear too often in a major-league clubhouse.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"No. 1, he's an ath-a-lete. No. 2, he's a shortstop. No. 3, he's a Devil Ray. And No. 4, he's got a toolbox full."

-- DAN JENNINGS, Rays scouting director on the best things about top pick B.J. Upton


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