By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2001
BALTIMORE -- John Flaherty picked a good day to be a hero.
A dozen family members got to see him hit the winning home run.
Flaherty's brother Jay is a Drug Enforcement Administration officer who recently was transferred to the agency's Virginia headquarters. With the Rays playing in Baltimore during Easter weekend, the Flaherty family decided to gather at Jay's new house for a rare in-season reunion. John's younger brother came in from New Jersey, and his sister brought her family from Connecticut.
"With us living in Florida, we can only all get together a couple times a year," Flaherty said. "The schedule worked out great for us, and this was special."
Reliever Doug Creek got to celebrate his victory with friends and relatives as well. Creek grew up in West Virginia, and he had about three dozen fans in the stands.
"Cousins, aunts, uncles, my grade-school gym teacher, hunting buddies, guys I went to school with," Creek said. "It's a pretty big bunch."
CASTILLA UPDATE: Agent Joe Sroba was on his way to Baltimore on Sunday evening hoping to find out just what the Rays plan to do with deposed third baseman Vinny Castilla.
"They created a tough situation, and it can't go on comfortably too long for either the club, the player or the front office," Sroba said. "I don't know what their plan is, but they created something of a boxy situation. They must have some exit strategy."
Castilla was benched Friday when prospect Aubrey Huff was called up, but the Rays say they aren't planning to trade or release Castilla soon, wanting to make sure Huff is indeed ready.
"By the same logic that they made a decision on two series with Vinny, maybe that's all they'll need to see Huff," Sroba said. "I hope this doesn't get ugly."
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GAMMONS: In his latest ESPN.com column, Peter Gammons writes there are rumors that soon-to-be former Indians general manager John Hart could end up in Los Angeles, Atlanta or Baltimore. "The other speculated destination," Gammons writes, "is Tampa Bay, where despite GM Chuck LaMar putting together a solid developmental system, there is unrest that goes way above the speculation about manager Larry Rothschild's future. There is a lot of talk that owner Vince Naimoli's partners want LaMar out, and if Mark Bostick ever is the lead owner, he is a friend of Hart's and a huge admirer. Oh yes and by the way, Hart does have a home in Orlando."
RUPE SCOOP: After a tough spring and a rough first start, Ryan Rupe appeared to be better in his last outing, Wednesday in Toronto. "I'm trying to take strides mechanically," said Rupe, who starts tonight. "Last year I was babying my shoulder and creating some bad habits. I'm trying to stay tall and throw the ball downhill."
CATCHING ON: Flaherty and Mike DiFelice are 4-for-4 in throwing out runners, making the Rays the only team to have not given up a stolen base.
RAYS BITS: After hitting seven homers through 10 games, the Rays have seven in two. ... All but one of their 14 runs in this series have scored on a homer. ... Fred McGriff was the DH for the first time. Steve Cox played first. ... Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.