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Grieve bracing to be trade bait

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 19, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG -- Greg Vaughn wasn't the only highly paid veteran outfielder heading into the final year of his contract coming off two disappointing seasons to check into camp Tuesday.

Ben Grieve did, too, saying he hoped to do better this season but figuring he probably won't be around the whole year.

"Last year if I continued to do well they were talking about trading me, and it'll be the same this year I'm sure if I'm doing well enough," Grieve said. "I'm sure they have already tried to trade me and probably couldn't find anyone that wanted me. So there's a different outlook when the possibility is pretty much that you're not going to be here much longer. But while I'm here, I haven't done much here and I want to give them a little bit of a sign of what I was like before I came here."

In three full seasons with Oakland, Grieve hit .278 and averaged 24 homers and 93 RBIs. In his two seasons with the Rays, he has hit .258 and averaged 15 homers and 68 RBIs.

Grieve, who has a $5.5-million salary this season, third highest on the team, said it still is different for him to report to camp knowing his team isn't going to win much.

"I'm going to come in and work hard in spring training and not look at it any different than that," he said. "If I'm trade bait, we'll see what happens when that time comes. For now, I'm here and I'll try to make the most of it, I guess."

As for his living arrangements this season?

"I'm trying to get a place that will let me out on short notice," he said.

NICE TO MEET YOU: Manager Lou Piniella is looking forward to having the full squad in camp today. He will address the players at 9:30, then put them right to work with an emphasis on fundamentals and individual instruction.

"We'll get a little more busy now and get a little livelier," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do in about a week getting ready for the exhibition schedule."

IN MEMORIAM: Bob Bonifay, a longtime minor-league executive and father of player personnel director Cam Bonifay, died Monday in Macon, Ga., at age 86. Mr. Bonifay's baseball career spanned parts of four decades, including a stint as general manager of the St. Petersburg Saints in 1950-51. He also worked as executive director of the Professional Golfers Association. Funeral services are 11 a.m. Thursday at Riverside United Methodist Church in Macon.

VAUGHN REPORT: Vaughn said he liked the additions the Rays made to the roster, though he has some concern about the number of young players they may carry. "I think they brought in some good players, players that have been around, players that can help, players that know how to play baseball," Vaughn said. "We'll see what happens."

MISCELLANY: Victor Zambrano missed a second day of workouts because of the flu but could be on back the field today. ... Catchers Angel Pena and Pete LaForest remain absent due to visa complications. ... Justin Baughman, Jay Canizaro and Lee Stevens also reported and worked out early.

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