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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Rays rooting for Hamilton, who won't make trip
Josh Hamilton isn't scheduled to make the trip to Progress Energy Park today with his new Cincinnati teammates, getting a needed day off after a surprisingly sizzling spring start.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published March 6, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Josh Hamilton isn't scheduled to make the trip to Progress Energy Park today with his new Cincinnati teammates, getting a needed day off after a surprisingly sizzling spring start.
That's too bad, because his old Devil Rays teammates were looking forward to seeing him.
As the one-time top prospect tries to resurrect a career derailed by drugs with the Reds, who acquired him through the Rule 5 draft, it's clear some Rays are among his biggest fans, checking box scores to monitor his progress (he's 9-for-16).
"I think everybody is rooting for him," centerfielder Rocco Baldelli said. "Every guy that played with him or knew him in any way is rooting for him."
Hamilton was the jewel of Tampa Bay's 1999 draft, a class that included current Rays Carl Crawford, Doug Waechter, Seth McClung and Jeff Ridgway (and ex-Ray Matt Diaz). Those who played with Hamilton in the minors still rave about his talent ("To this day, the best I've ever seen," Jonny Gomes said) and categorize him as a good kid who made bad decisions.
"There's been a lot of prayers said for Josh in this locker room," McClung said. "I wish the world for him. He's a good kid. Sometimes guys make mistakes, and he made a mistake. ... For him to get another chance at this, I think he's going to make the most of it."
Hamilton was expecting to make today's trip, inquiring about extra tickets for family, but the Reds said he needed to rest sore legs. His next chance to face the Rays is March 14 in Sarasota, though he is scheduled to play Wednesday night in Tampa against the Yankees.
"I know he's got a lot of things he has to overcome, but everybody's really behind him," Waechter said. "Everybody knows what kind of kid he is, and everybody roots for that kind of kid."