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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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Done in by old hand
The Rays can't stop the Yankees and Bobby Abreu - the one who got away.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 15, 2007
Bobby Abreu, traded to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker in an oft-ridiculed 1997 expansion draft deal, continues to haunt the Rays 10 years later, knocking in five runs as the Yankees scored a 6-4 victory.
ST. PETERSBURG - All kinds of familiar faces show up at Tropicana Field when the Yankees come to town, such as Gators football coach Urban Meyer and pro wrestling star John Cena, who were among Saturday's sold-out crowd.
And a handful of original Devil Rays stopped by, with Wade Boggs dropping in Thursday and four gathering Saturday: Miguel Cairo, who still plays for the Yankees, and John Flaherty, who does TV work, plus Fred McGriff and Dave Martinez, who work for the Rays.
But it was one who got away - Bobby Abreu - whom the Rays would prefer to never see again.
Abreu, traded to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker in an oft-ridiculed 1997 expansion draft deal, continues to haunt the Rays 10 years later, knocking in five runs as the Yankees scored a 6-4 victory.
"Last year when we got him from Philadelphia, he was such a perfect fit for what we do," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Tonight was another example. He could have had more, too. ... It was a great game for him."
The Rays, losing for the 15th time in 17 games and dropping to a major-league worst 35-55, couldn't have gotten off to a better start Saturday.
First, they sold all available tickets - an announced 36,048 - for just the sixth sellout in their 10-season, 768-home game history. Then they scored three runs in the first inning off Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang (10-4, 3.43), who hadn't allowed a first-inning run in his previous eight starts.
But after that, the highlights were pretty much limited to a spectacular leaping catch by silky-smooth centerfielder B.J. Upton, an unexpectedly effective relief outing by Brian Stokes and Carlos Pena's team-high 21st home run. (And the ridiculousness of a pitch that obviously hit Brendan Harris' left wrist being called a fair ball as it rolled back onto the field.)
"It was a well-played game on both sides," manager Joe Maddon said. "It is frustrating to not be able to carry it through, but I'm looking at the effort, I'm looking at us doing the little things better. Good pitching tonight from our perspective. They beat us."
Rays rookie starter Andy Sonnanstine had made seven starts since being called up in early June, but this was the first time he faced the Yankees, and it was an interesting experience. He didn't pitch poorly but gave up five runs in 61/3 innings, including three on two home runs off his still-developing cutter, which he admits is his third- or fourth-best pitch.
"It's something I've been working on," said Sonnanstine, 1-4, 5.57. "And the only way that pitch is going to get better is if I keep throwing it."
Abreu, inspired by the presence of Luis Aparicio, the only Hall of Famer from their native Venezuela, had his biggest game since a career-best seven-RBI performance in September, against the Rays as well. In 14 career games at the Trop, Abreu is hitting .407 with four home runs and 21 RBIs.
So how would his career have been different if the Rays, who drafted him from Houston, had kept him as a 23-year-old who'd just made it to the majors?
"Well ... (silence) ... I don't know ... (laughter) ... I don't know," Abreu said. "I've just been playing my game. It probably would have been the same. They would have given me the opportunity to play, and back then that's what I wanted."