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SS has All-Star stats, not stature
The player(s) who will represent the Devil Rays at the July 10 All-Star Game will be announced next Sunday, with Al Reyes, James Shields, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton the top candidates, probably in that order.
By Marc Topkin
Published June 24, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - The player(s) who will represent the Devil Rays at the July 10 All-Star Game will be announced next Sunday, with Al Reyes, James Shields, Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton the top candidates, probably in that order.
One player it won't be, unless something really weird happens, is SS Brendan Harris.
And that, manager Joe Maddon said, is too bad.
"I would just like people to talk about it, " Maddon said. "Of course the competition at his position is pretty severe. But what he's done has been exceptional."
Having been acquired from Cincinnati as something of an afterthought, and having made the Rays roster as a utility infielder after a strong spring, Harris has emerged as one of the top performers at one of the league's showcase positions.
He ranks third among AL shortstops with eight home runs (though Friday), fourth with a .310 average and an .843 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) and eighth with 32 RBIs. Only Detroit's Carlos Guillen and Baltimore's injured Miguel Tejada also rank among the top eight in all four categories. Harris has made seven errors at short, Guillen 12 and Tejada six. The likely starter by fan vote is New York's Derek Jeter.
"You look at (Harris') overall play and there's a case to be made there, " Maddon said. "Of course the name isn't glamorous, but he's been pretty darn good."
The same could be said about 1B Carlos Pena, who could have the interesting distinction of hitting 20 homers before the break and spending it at home.
DUKES RUMBLINGS: There was little surprise and more than a few "I told you sos" in the clubhouse following the Elijah Dukes announcement Friday, including one player saying that by putting him on the team, management "made a deal with the devil" to win games. ... Triple-A Durham officials declined comment on whether they'd object to Dukes being sent there; last year team VP George Habel said Dukes was not welcome back and he would be "disappointed" if the issue came up again. ... The Pirates and Marlins were among teams who had, and could still have, interest in Dukes. ... Internet humorists are taking all kinds of shots at Dukes; one popular theme is that he leave the Rays for Cincinnati - and play for the Bengals.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Andy MacPhail's hiring by the Orioles seems similar to when John McHale was brought in to straighten out the Rays - except that McPhail might actually get to be in charge. ... Rookie OF Delmon Young has the strongest throwing arm in the game, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who polled a handful of third-base coaches. ... Meanwhile, big brother Dmitri Young says Nats prospect Chris Marrero has "absolutely the most potent swing I've seen, outside of my brother's." ... Ex-Ray Bubba Trammell, 35 and out of the game since leaving Triple-A Durham in 2004, is trying a comeback with Baltimore and rehabbing an injured knee at Class A Aberdeen. ... And exactly how many people expected the Rays to have a better record than the White Sox when they meet Monday? ... Dewon Brazelton is pitching for Pittsburgh's Double-A team and being coached by St. Petersburg's Ray Searage. ... Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal said the Dodgers turned down an offseason offer of Rocco Baldelli for RHP Chad Billingsley and OF Andre Ethier. ... As long as Baldelli will be out with his latest hamstring injury, there's no chance he'll get the 600 plate appearances needed to increase his 2008 salary from $2.25-million to $4.5-million, since he has only 150 so far, or most of his five $350, 000 incentive bonuses that start at 200.