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Rays tales


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001

HAIR TODAY: Ah, the '70s. Things were a little different then, a little more carefree, a little wilder. Like, for example, Larry Rothschild's hair. At left is a 1974 picture of Rothschild as a Florida State pitcher, a photo featured in the latest edition of the Seminoles baseball media guide. At right is the well-coiffed Rothschild as you know him today.

GOING DEEP: Pat Borders had an unwelcome surprise when he got back to the training complex after Tuesday's exhibition. The windshield of his 1997 pickup truck, which was parked beyond the rightfield fence, had been smashed by a batting practice home run. Left-handers Fred McGriff and Aubrey Huff were among players working out, and it didn't take long for Borders to find out who did it. Huff wrote "Sorry, Pat" on a baseball and left it for him on the truck.

"The word I got was that they were trying to hit the ball out there," said Borders, who drove 90-some miles home to Lake Wales that night and back the next day before getting a replacement. "The wind must have been blowing, because normally they can't hit balls that far." Huff said: "With the truck he's got, you wouldn't notice it anyway. It's a wreck."

MR. 89ER: Right-hander Travis Phelps could make history. And all he has to do is get to the major leagues to do so. Phelps was an 89th-round pick by the Rays in 1996 and, according to the experts at Baseball America, no player drafted that low has made it to big leagues. And with the draft since been shortened to 50 rounds, it's likely no one else ever will have the chance. "It's not where you start," said Phelps, who pitched another junior-college season after the draft and signed in May 1997. "It's where you end up."

TOE JAM: Jesus Colome has a spectacular arm, but the 21-year-old phenom was taking some major ribbing for his fashion sense after showing up in the clubhouse last week with his toenails painted dark. "He says it's the new style," coach Jose Cardenal said.

What they're saying

Lawrence Rocca, writing in Newsday after Friday's Yankees-Rays exhibition: "Luis Sojo got the hit that won the Subway Series, and the joke here Friday was that it might be the only hit he's ever gotten more important to George Steinbrenner than the one that beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in the ninth Friday. Steinbrenner has an intense rivalry with Tampa Bay owner Vince Naimoli. So intense that (manager Joe) Torre started all his regulars except for (injured Derek) Jeter. ... "Everyone knows how important it is to George,' Torre said. "I don't think that's any secret.' "

Quote of the week

"The only problem he's going to have is finding shoes to fit him. Size 19 shoes -- that's unbelievable."

-- FRED McGRIFF, otherwise lavishing praise on 19-year-old phenom Josh Hamilton

By the numbers

1: Run allowed by Rays starters through 20 innings over the first seven exhibition games. 6: Rays among Baseball America's list of the top 100 prospects.

30: Players remaining to be cut, reassigned or disabled by opening day.

Roster report

Here is the third of our weekly guesses at what the 25-man opening day roster will look like:

PITCHERS (11): Albie Lopez, Paul Wilson, Ryan Rupe, Bryan Rekar, Travis Harper, Tanyon Sturtze, Esteban Yan, Doug Creek, Ken Hill, Paul Spoljaric, Dan Wheeler.

CATCHERS (2): John Flaherty, Mike DiFelice.

INFIELDERS (7): Vinny Castilla, Felix Martinez, Brent Abernathy, Fred McGriff, Steve Cox, Russ Johnson, Ozzie Guillen.

OUTFIELDERS (5): Greg Vaughn, Gerald Williams, Ben Grieve, Jose Guillen, Randy Winn.

DL: Wilson Alvarez, Juan Guzman.

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