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Rays Tales

Published June 13, 2004

LORDS OF THE RINGS: The Tampa Bay area has one of the most successful trio of head coaches around. The manager of the baseball team, Lou Piniella, won a World Series with Cincinnati in 1990. The coach of the NFL team, Jon Gruden, won a Super Bowl in 2003. The coach of the hockey team, John Tortorella, won a Stanley Cup last week.

"The only thing, unfortunately, is that I'm the only one of the three that hasn't won in this city," Piniella said. "Hopefully, we'll get that done here. That's what I came here for obviously."

Piniella's advice to Tortorella - which Gruden found to be true - is simple.

Enjoy it while you can.

"You're always looking for that second one," Piniella said. "I think you feel really good about it, but right away you're faced with spring training for the next season. You don't really have all that long to reflect on it. You really don't. ... It really is, "What have you done for me lately?' "

POSTING UP: First-round draft pick Jeff Niemann had an interesting Pony League teammate in Houston - Emeka Okafor, who went on to be a college basketball star at Connecticut and is soon to be a top NBA draft pick. "Emeka was the better athlete, but Jeff was the more polished baseball player,' said Niemann's dad, Steve, who coached the team. ... The two went to middle school together, but when it came time to go out for basketball, Okafor made the team and Niemann decided to stick to baseball. ... The Rays had more of a connection with the Niemanns than they knew. Steve played Little League against bench coach John McLaren in the Houston area and Pony League ball against GM Chuck LaMar. ... Jeff Niemann's 6-foot-2 sister - Emily - plays basketball at Baylor.

MATCH RACE: Fred McGriff has seen and done a lot in the game, but Friday night he was shaking his head over being pinch run for by catcher Brook Fordyce.

"McGriff was a little disappointed when we ran Fordyce for him," Piniella said. "He looked a little befuddled."

Fordyce, a 34-year-old who made his big-league debut as a pinch-runner for the Mets 1995, said McGriff, 40, had nothing to be ashamed of: "I used to run fast."

So did McGriff apparently.


"He should be at the dice tables in Vegas rolling sixes."

- LOU PINIELLA, manager, after Victor Zambrano went six no-hit innings, struck out six and walked six while earning his sixth victory

[Last modified June 12, 2004, 23:37:23]

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