tampabay.com

Rays seem ready to dump Devil

A name tweak is among changes considered for 2008.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published February 8, 2007


TAMPA - When the Devil Rays unveil new logos, colors and uniforms for the 2008 season, they likely still will be known by their old name.

Or at least their old last name.

After considering a complete change of identity to mark the end of their first decade, team officials apparently will instead drop the Devil and keep the Rays.

"We haven't made a final decision, but we are leaning toward the direction of a change in uniform, a change of colors, a change in logo and perhaps a slight modification of the name," team president Matt Silverman said. "But it's unlikely we will have a dramatic change in the name."

That decision represents something of a compromise, allowing the team to maintain what brand identity it has and connections, such as with the new rays tank while exorcising the devilish connotation that some find objectionable.

"We've integrated fan sentiments, results from focus groups and surveys into this," Silverman said.

The new color scheme, expected to be heavy on blue, perhaps with yellow accompaniments, isn't likely to be unveiled until after this season.

Earlier Wednesday, Silverman told the sold-out crowd of 400 at the Tampa Chamber of Commerce luncheon that principal owner Stuart Sternberg is very much committed to winning but they will stick to a plan that requires time and patience for young players to mature. As a result, they made only a few offseason acquisitions and have a projected major-league low opening-day payroll of $24-million.

"We lost 101 games last season and that is not acceptable," Silverman said. "We are all anxious to have a winning team. ... No one wants to succeed more than Stuart Sternberg. Unfortunately, there really isn't a quick fix for major-league baseball teams. ...

"We need to have patience to make the right decisions, to make the right investments that are going to benefit this organization and this community for years to come."

Also:

- Manager Joe Maddon seemed to answer one of the biggest questions of spring training by saying new Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura will "most likely" play third base.

There had been talk of moving Iwamura to second, which would have displaced Jorge Cantu. With Iwamura at third, Ty Wigginton seems likely to play first and B.J. Upton will have to compete for a utility job. Camp opens Feb. 17.

- The Rays released a TV schedule that features a franchise-most 146 games - 79 on Fox Sports Net cable, 67 over-the-air on ION Television (formerly Pax). Joe Magrane and Dewayne Staats return in the booth, with Todd Kalas again part of the crew.

As part of their regionalization efforts, the Rays increased the games available on over-the-air TV in Orlando from 25 to 67.

- New special adviser Fred McGriff was the most popular attraction at the Hyatt Regency luncheon, and the retired slugger made a pitch to fans in his Tampa hometown. "I get tired of driving around town and seeing 'Go Yankees,' " McGriff said. "We've got to change that."

- Iwamura will make his first public appearance as a Ray on today's St. Petersburg caravan, with stops including the 11:30 a.m. St. Petersburg/Cleawater chamber luncheon at Tropicana Field and a 6 p.m. autograph session at BayWalk.

Around the majors

DODGERS: Right-hander Joe Mays agreed to a minor-league contract and will attend spring training as a nonroster invitee. He is 48-70 with a 5.05 ERA in 206 games, 156 as a starter.

RANGERS: Left-hander Bruce Chen agreed to a minor-league contract and will compete for the starting rotation. In nine seasons with eight teams he is 35-37 with a 4.60 ERA.

YANKEES: Left-hander Kei Igawa, expected to be in the starting rotation, threw on flat ground at the minor-league complex in Tampa. He is scheduled to throw off a mound on Monday. "He looks like he is going to be a real good pitcher," Yankees vice president Billy Connors said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at (727) 893-8801 or topkin@sptimes.com.