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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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For Wren, 'it worked out'
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 14, 2007
BOSTON - Frank Wren hoped things were going to work out differently in July 1995, when he lost out - by the slimmest of margins - to Chuck LaMar for the Devil Rays' GM job.
But it turned out that things couldn't have worked out any better for Wren, who Thursday was promoted to GM of the Braves.
The Northeast High/St. Petersburg Junior College product seemed a perfect fit to build the Rays, but Vince Naimoli, agonizing over a "very, very difficult choice," picked LaMar, with one team investor citing "the fire in his belly and the passion in his eyes."
Well, we know how that worked out. ...
Wren, meanwhile, remained an assistant GM of the Marlins through 1998 (under Dave Dombrowski), spent an ill-fated 1999 season as GM of the chaotic Orioles and the past eight as assistant to Braves GM John Schuerholz (for whom LaMar worked and once hoped to succeed).
"I'd been an assistant GM for four years when (the Tampa Bay) opportunity came along, and I thought I was ready," said Wren, 49. "But every year you spend in the game better prepares you. When I went to Baltimore, I was sure I was ready. There's just things that as an assistant you say, 'When I'm a GM, I'm going to do this,' but when you sit in that chair, it's a lot tougher than you think.
"After another eight years as an assistant with John and (manager Bobby Cox), I don't feel that nervousness, I don't feel that anxiety. I'm ready to go."
And what if Naimoli had made a different decision?
"You never know," Wren said. "It may have been good for me. It may have been bad for me. It may have been good for Tampa Bay. It may have been bad. Chuck and I were both assistants looking to get our first GM job. ...
"Look, it worked out for Chuck because he got to be a GM for nine or 10 years. And it worked out for me because I get to be GM of one of the greatest sports franchises in the world."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: There's talk about moving up Saturday night game times an hour (to 6:10) and expanding the successful postgame concert series. ... Dave Martinez not only impressed the Rays enough to be hired as bench coach with virtually no experience but manager Joe Maddon said, "I can definitely see Davey being a major-league manager some day." ... Pitching coach Leo Mazzone is available but probably not a good fit for the Rays (should they not retain Jim Hickey) given questions about his work with young pitchers. Plus, his star dimmed considerably in Baltimore (and at the end in Atlanta). ... 1B Carlos Pena told the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, Mass., he's been talking with agent Scott Boras (who previously told the Times the arbitration-eligible Pena had a $15-million season), and "it's awesome to look at the possibilities." ... Several former Rays might end up on John McLaren's new coaching staff in Seattle, with Lee Elia, Chris Bosio and Norm Charlton all mentioned. ... Minor-league baseball's official Web site (milb.com) named RHP Chris Mason Double-A starting pitcher of the year, OF Ryan Royster the Class A offensive player and Southern League champion Montgomery the Double-A team of the year. (The Clearwater Threshers were the top Class A advanced team.) ... Will the new carpools-are-free parking policy inspire a rent-a-passenger industry around the Trop?
There's a lot of football talk passing around baseball's championship series.
Rockies 1B Todd Helton actually played ahead of QB Peyton Manning at Tennessee in 1994, starting three games - including a 31-0 loss to Florida - before hurting a knee and giving way.
And - how's this for coincidence? - Rockies OF Seth Smith was the backup at Ole Miss to QB Eli Manning.
Then there's Indians GM Mark Shapiro, whose longtime best friend is Patriots VP Scott Pioli and whose brother-in-law is Jets coach Eric Mangini (who married Shapiro's sister). "When there's a Patriots-Jets game, I just refrain from watching," Shapiro said.