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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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Zimmer irate after Yankees string out Torre
By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 21, 2007
BOSTON - Don Zimmer feels bad for his good friend Joe Torre.
Bad enough that he called him Thursday night, after his rejection of an incentive-laden offer left him unemployed as the former manager of the Yankees, and offered to help.
"I told him, if you run into any problems, I'll go into downtown St. Pete with a tin cup for you," Zimmer said by phone Saturday. "And he just laughed."
Zimmer walked away from the Yankees four years ago because he was tired of the poor way George Steinbrenner and Co. treated people, and he has been shaking his head again over how the Yankees mishandled Torre's situation.
"It was sad the way it was handled," Zimmer said. "What has the man done? It speaks for itself. To let him sit there for 10-12 days is bullc---, and then all you hear about is 'keep Torre, don't keep Torre.' ... Do things in a better way than that. You've got so many people over there now involved, I don't know.
"Where do they stand now? They're going to interview six managers? Let them have a good time."
Zimmer said he wasn't as troubled by the specifics of the Yankees' offer (with a pay cut and performance incentives) than the way they dragged things out rather than simply making a decision after they were eliminated.
"How tough is it to fire somebody if you do it the right way?" he said. "I've been fired. What's so bad about that? You call someone in, tell them you want to go in a different direction, and that's it. In baseball somewhere along the line most people get fired in some capacity."
Zimmer said he doesn't know what Torre is going to do next (outside of the annual December trip they make to Las Vegas with a dozen friends). But he'd be fortunate to end up with a gig as good as Zimmer has had as senior adviser for the Rays, which was recently renewed for a fifth season, which will be his 60th in pro ball.
"How can anybody be treated any better than I have by (Vince) Naimoli, (Lou) Piniella and the new (Stuart Sternberg) people? I've been treated better than a .235 hitter," Zimmer said. "It's going to be fun to go to spring training and walk out there with uniform number 60. A lot of fun."
MAKING THE SHOW: Kevin Costner had a pretty good time playing Crash Davis in the movie Bull Durham. And, with his band, Modern West, playing at the Rays' Nov. 8 uniform unveiling event at Straub Park, he drew an interesting parallel to Rays manager Joe Maddon.
"He didn't make it into the bigs as a player, and ... I kind of dig that," Costner said. "That's kind of who Crash Davis was."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: In Baseball America's postseason rookies ranking, RF Delmon Young was 13th overall, fifth in the AL behind Boston's Dustin Pedroia (No. 3 overall) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (6), Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie (8) and Kansas City's Brian Bannister (12). 3B Akinori Iwamura didn't make the top 20. ... OF Justin Ruggiano was added to the USA Baseball World Cup team, joining 3B Evan Longoria, that competes next month in Taiwan. ... There's chatter out of Chicago about the White Sox's interest in LF Carl Crawford. ... Another 10-year employee, pre- and in-game entertainment director John Franzone, has resigned.
In addition to soon deciding the fate of pitching coach Jim Hickey, here are a few other issues the Rays have to address in the next few months:
Options for 2008
INF Greg Norton $1M
RHP Al Reyes $2.3M
Free agents with '07 salaries
C Raul Casanova $410,000
C Josh Paul $625,000
RHP Jay Witasick $1.5M
Arbitration eligible with '07 salaries
RHP Grant Balfour $415,000
RHP Shawn Camp $411,700
RHP Gary Glover $600,000
OF Jonny Gomes $407,800
LHP Scott Kazmir $424,300
1B Carlos Pena $800,000
RHP Dan Wheeler $2.1M
40-man roster reinstatements
OF Rocco Baldelli; C Shawn Riggans; SS Ben Zobrist