tampabay.com

Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 25, 2004


LEAP OF FAITH

Outfielder Joey Gathright is very fast. But he doesn't really like to run.

Despite sprinter speed (6.1 seconds in the 60-yard dash, 3.3 seconds home to first on a bunt), Gathright has never enjoyed running track, trying it briefly in eighth grade before deciding to stick to football and baseball.

Plus, he'd rather jump.

"I really like to do the long jump," Gathright said. "In eighth grade, I did about 23 feet. If I was working at it now, I think I could break the (world record of 29 feet, 41/2 inches held since 1991 by Mike Powell). But that's just me."

He tried the high jump but wasn't comfortable with the traditional form of going over the bar head and shoulders first. He really stood out as a 10th-grader when, on no more than a whim while waiting for a ride after football practice, he jumped over his coach's car.

From the driver side to the passenger side, right over the top.

"He goes back about 5-8 yards and kind of jogs up there," said Rays scout Benny Latino, who has seen a handful of jumps. "He lands on his feet almost like he hurdles it. It is something to see."

Gathright has made dozens of jumps but says he is "retired" now. He once jumped three consecutive cars, a feat caught on video that is in the hands of Rays minor-leaguer Fernando Cortez, a close friend.

"I've got to get that tape," Gathright said. "His big plan was that if I ever made it, he'd sell that tape to somebody."

YOU DON'T SAY

"I think a lot of those fans are both. They root for whoever's ahead. They wear a Devil Rays hat with a Yankees shirt or a Yankees hat with a Devil Rays shirt." - AUBREY HUFF, on last week's Yankees-Rays crowds.

TABLOID MATERIAL

Before the Yankees came to town last week, manager Joe Torre told the New York Post the manager he most liked to match wits with was Lou Piniella.

After the Yankees beat the Rays on Tuesday to extend their season series edge to 10-4, Piniella said he knew why.

"That's why Joe Torre likes to manage against me," Piniella said, "because he comes out on top a lot more than he loses."