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By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- At the least, Jose Guillen would like an answer.
Actually, Guillen would prefer a starting spot in rightfield with the chance to play every day. But after surveying the crowded outfield situation for the first week of spring training, he said he'd at least like to know what the Rays have planned for him.
"I don't think I have a chance here," Guillen said. "It's like I'm in the middle of nowhere. Greg Vaughn said he doesn't want to be a (designated hitter) so he's going to be in leftfield and Ben Grieve, he's too young (at 24) to be a DH. He deserves to play, in leftfield and now in rightfield. And Steve Cox had a good year last year, he's a good hitter. I understand that.
"I just want to know the truth. I just want to know what's going on. I want to know what my situation is."
Guillen said he hasn't heard anything from general manager Chuck LaMar or manager Larry Rothschild, though it should be pointed out he hasn't asked either.
From what team officials have said publicly, there are several scenarios: Guillen, with an exceptional spring, could win the starting rightfield job. He could make the team as a backup. Or he could be traded for bullpen help.
Guillen said he'd like to stay with the Rays but wants to be an everyday player somewhere.
He said he felt misled last spring, when the Rays said the rightfield competition was open but they kept veteran Dave Martinez, who had a hefty salary, and Bubba Trammell, who was out of options. Guillen, who had minor-league options remaining, was sent to Triple A after coming off the disabled list. He was recalled in May when Martinez was traded.
"Last year they told me whoever did the best was going to be the rightfielder," Guillen said. "I think I had a great spring but I don't think I had a chance to make the team because of Davey's situation and Bubba's situation. I knew what was going down. So that was not really true."
FOR OPENERS: The Rays play what amounts to an exhibition exhibition game today, hosting Notre Dame at 1 at Florida Power Park. Travis Harper will start and Rothschild plans to use most of his frontline players for the first few innings. The Irish counter with 20-year-old sophomore right-hander Peter Ogilvie in his first collegiate appearance. . . . Harper will be followed by Matt White, Jason Standridge, Victor Zambrano and Rusty Meacham. . . . The Irish are 5-1. SPLIT DECISION: Managing general partner Vince Naimoli is sure to have split loyalties today. Naimoli's business is to run the Rays, but his passion is Notre Dame sports. Naimoli is a major ND booster.
ON THE MEND: Juan Guzman took another step in his recovery from June shoulder surgery, facing hitters for the first time this spring. Guzman threw 25 pitches in an early morning session Wednesday and said everything felt good. He has had no setbacks but doesn't know if he will be ready at the start of the season. "I'm getting better and better," he said.
MISCELLANY: Tanyon Sturtze agreed to terms on a one-year deal. Felix Martinez and Doug Creek are the only unsigned players and the Rays say they will renew their contracts if there are no deals by Friday. . . . LaMar will appear on BayNews 9's Sports Connection at 11 tonight.
The Rays play Notre Dame at 1 p.m. at Florida Power Park (180 Second Ave. SE). Pregame workouts start at 9:30. Other players will work out at the Naimoli training complex (7901 30th Ave. N) from 9:30 to 11:30.