Johnson grateful to be back
By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- Russ Johnson was in a Rays uniform Saturday for the first time since July 5.
The third baseman, who had been treated for anxiety and depression, said he was "happy to get to act like a kid for three hours a day." On his first swing in batting practice, Johnson hit the wall 370 feet away.
Manager Hal McRae did not know how he would use Johnson, but he welcomed him after a nearly three-week minor-league rehabilitation.
"I know Russ was concerned about how he was going to be received, but I told him that it wasn't going to be a problem because everybody knew he wasn't in control of his actions," McRae said. "The guy we saw wasn't really him."
Johnson said religion had a lot to with his recovery. An ESPN camera crew has been following him around, but he does not know why, saying he has done nothing to deserve the attention.
"All I want to do is stay humble because it's not about me; I'm just a baseball player that just plays hard and does my little job," Johnson said. "All I know is this happened for a reason."
HUFF A HIT: With his second-inning single, Aubrey Huff extended his hitting streak to 14 games, a Rays season high and the fourth-longest in team history. He is tied for the majors' longest current streak with the Angels' David Eckstein and injured Reds rookie Austin Kearns.
"It's one of those years where I'm getting the good hitter's counts and seeing the ball a lot better," Huff said.
The 25-year-old Huff also hit his 21st home run in the seventh, a high number considering he did not join the Rays until May 28. He has homered in three straight games for the first time.
Huff has driven in or scored six of the Rays' 10 runs during the homestand. The Miami product said the Hurricanes football team's win against Florida was "the only good thing today."
EX-GATOR GAME: Former Florida quarterback Herbert Perry did not get to watch the Gators lose to Miami, but he put on a show of his own by going 3-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs. Perry singled in the second, hit a home run in the third that gave Texas a 5-0 lead and added a seventh-inning homer. It was the fourth multihomer game of his career and first of the season for Perry.
"I usually do it once a year whenever I get a chance to play," said Perry, who has 21 homers this season. "I didn't know if today would be the day. You never think you're going to hit two."
PARK PLUGGED: Several Korean media outlets, including the Korean Broadcasting System, were in St. Petersburg for countryman Chan Ho Park's turn in the Rangers rotation. The crew stays in Dallas and travels to all games Park is expected to start, providing radio to the MLB television feed.
It was the 21st game of the season for the crew. Commentator Kun Young Shon said several million people listen to the broadcasts and would have Saturday even though the 13-hour time difference meant it aired at 7:15 a.m. today.
There were five Korean newspapers and two photographers present. Park pitched 81/3 innings, giving up two runs, and was ejected for talking back to the umpire after being taken out.
SOSA STARTING: Right-hander Jorge Sosa is today's scheduled starter. In his 13 starts this season, Sosa is 1-7 with a 6.10 ERA.
"He's made some progress, but he's going to be up and down," McRae said. "The inconsistency is the normal course. I think he's doing extremely well for a position player that was converted and has only pitched for a year."
MISCELLANY: The Durham Bulls named Andy Sheets team MVP and closer Lee Gardner pitcher of the year. Durham begins the International League championship series Tuesday at Buffalo without both. ... Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez has 83 hits against the Rays, matching Toronto's Shannon Stewart for the most. He is hitting .417 (highest vs. the Rays) with 16 homers and 48 RBIs.
Back to the Rays
RaysJohnson grateful to be back
'About as bad as you can get'
Deal's impact a year or two off
BucsHe's still the one
OL trades papers for pigskins
Sapp's goals, Gruden's thoughts? You pick 'em
Bucs side line
Chucky's Chalk Talk vs. the Saints
High Profile: Michael Pittman
It's a woman's world for McCardell
Anticipation is brewing for unpredictable Bucs
Letters: Don't kick a Buc when he's jobless
Lightning10 Lightning questions entering camp
A simple plan: score more
Late power steers Bulls to win
College football notebook
Rubin hopes to sustain start
NIU's top tailback Hammock sits out
C-USA: Nix fights way back in win for S. Miss
ACC: Gamecock turnovers lift Cavs
Big 12: Colorado scores win without QB
Pac-10: FSU transfer Darling has 3 TDs for Wash. St.
Around the state
Big Ten: Coach wakes Spartans in time
Big East: Texas A&M converts on Pitt's PAT woes
Irish win despite offense
SEC: Bama's bid bobbled: Sooners avoid upset
Miami AD would like to play UF regularly
UM runner seems here to stay
At right time, DBs emerge for Miami
Serena wins 3rd straight in sister slam
Men's final a flashback for two 'old-timers'
Davenport surprising even herself
Wells loses two teeth in attack at diner
AL: Mulder stops A's skid at one
NL: Giants win on final swing again
A-Rod: Let's begin promoting the good
Highs and lows
Spurrier's struggles should be short-lived
A Heisman primary yields no early leader
Winners over U.S. compete for gold
Junior still dominant force in Busch series
Stewart denies assaulting woman after Bristol race
Kenseth survives Richmond
Mustangs boys, girlsmake strong showings
CCC girls, Largo boys run strong
Wharton crashes the party
Patriots gain little respect
Activated receiver Smith will start for Jaguars
Daily fishing report
Sampras: role model for fans and Roddick