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MLB hoping park sails along
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published February 24, 2008
MLB president Bob DuPuy pinch-hits for commissioner Bud Selig at Tuesday's reinstated Governor's Baseball Dinner at Tropicana Field liking what he's seeing with the Rays.
"For each of the last two, three years we've had a fair amount of enthusiasm about the franchise; the job (principal owner Stuart Sternberg, team president Matt Silverman and executive vice president Andrew Friedman) have been doing; what they've done with the ballpark; with the young talent they have on the club," DuPuy said.
"I remember opening day last year I got stuck in traffic, which I thought was a terrific sign; it'd be nice to see that every day. I think they're headed in the right direction. I like the new look, the new uniforms, the decision to go strictly by Rays. It's a fresh start, and everyone should see what's happening."
Although there has been skepticism and criticism locally of the ownership/management group's intentions, DuPuy said MLB has no such concerns. He cited examples such as the Rays bidding for Japanese ace Daisuke Matsuzaka and their expenditures beyond an increased major-league payroll to improve the organization, and he said MLB is satisfied with their use of revenue-sharing funds.
"I think there's a commitment to win, a commitment to the community, a commitment to improve the ballpark and to improve the product on the field," DuPuy said. "There's no reason to doubt them."
But - while stopping well short of anything resembling the threats needed to spur action in Miami - he said there's something else MLB is hoping for:
"We'd like to see a new ballpark in St. Petersburg very much," DuPuy said. "Regardless of the changes that have been made to Tropicana Field, there is not the same feel there would be in a new ballpark built the way some of the other new ballparks have been in terms of amenities, of being a destination point, of being near the water. It's very important they get a ballpark."
NO RUSH: The Rays told Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo not to worry about reporting to spring training and to spend as much time as he needs with his son, Alex, who was born with a rare heart defect. Farm director Mitch Lukevics said the Rays hadn't made contingency plans for the season and wouldn't for a while. "Our biggest concern is for Alex, and for Charlie and his family," Lukevics said.
REVISIONIST HISTORY: Comments about the absence of Elijah Dukes and Delmon Young make it clear how big of a problem there was in the clubhouse.
"One thing you really want is to be surrounded by 25 guys that will go to war with you between the lines," OF Jonny Gomes said. "And I don't know that last year all 25 of us had each other's back."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Carl Crawford certainly stepped up and spoke out last week, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to assume a vocal clubhouse leadership role he has never previously wanted. ... Gomes is sporting a new tattoo on his left arm of a Japanese koi fish, intrigued by the history and good luck/spiritual benefits. ... In what seems like a good bet, the over/under on Rays wins at Bodog.com and other online sites is 72. ... Among acts the Rays are booking for a summer postgame concert series is LL Cool J. ... Oddest item on the promotional schedule: the Disco Wig on May 24. ... There will be an info booth at Progress Energy Park spring training games about the proposed new stadium but no example of the saillike roof. The Rays might mark the outfield spot that would be home plate. ... Would the new marketing theme of We Are One Team become We Are One Team Plus One if the Rays sign Barry Bonds?
The second of our weekly guesses on the makeup of the 25-man opening day roster:
Pitchers (12): Scott Dohmann, Matt Garza, Gary Glover, Jason Hammel, Edwin Jackson, Scott Kazmir, Trever Miller, Troy Percival, Al Reyes, James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine, Dan Wheeler
Catchers (2): Dioner Navarro, Shawn Riggans
Infielders (6): Willy Aybar, Jason Bartlett, Joel Guzman, Akinori Iwamura, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist