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Rays tales

MARC TOPKIN
Published June 6, 2004

DRAFT DAZE: Some players remember their draft day as their first experience with pro baseball. Others just remember sitting around and waiting.

Tino Martinez had family and friends over to his Tampa house for a backyard barbecue in 1988 while waiting for the phone to ring. The problem - and remember this was before cell phones and Internet access - was that it kept ringing.

"You don't know when they're going to call. You have no idea what's going to happen," he said. "It was a little frustrating because the phone kept ringing, people calling wanting to know if I'd got drafted."

Carl Crawford had been told he probably would be a first-round pick in 1999 and had a bunch of people over to the house waiting to celebrate. But when he wasn't among the 30 first-round picks, or the 21 sandwich picks, the conversation turned to college football well before the Rays took him with the first pick of the second round, 52nd overall.

"It was quite a disappointing day," Crawford said. "I didn't even want to play baseball after that. I was going to Nebraska. But it worked out fine."

Aubrey Huff was playing in a College World Series game for Miami when he got word.

"Somebody told us in the dugout," he said.

Rocco Baldelli had a Rhode Island state playoff game on his 2000 draft day and was in the locker room, where his cell phone didn't work, when he got picked sixth overall. He knew something was up when he went outside to get on the bus.

"There were a bunch of reporters waiting," he said, "and the game wasn't even at my school."

MOVING ON UP: Lou Piniella's 1,400th win last week moved him past Hall of Famer Wilbert Robinson on the all-time list, and they have something in common.

Piniella started his coaching career as a player-coach for the Yankees and eventually became their manager. Robinson started his career as player-manager in 1902 for the Baltimore Orioles, who later became the Yankees.

Robinson played 17 seasons (from 1886-1902), mostly as a catcher then managed the Orioles for one year and the Brooklyn Robins (who became the Dodgers) for 18, compiling an overall record of 1,399-1,398.

YOU DON'T SAY

"It's baseball." - FRED McGRIFF, explaining how the Rays could play so badly and win Friday's game

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