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Rays tales

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


WHAT'S UP, SKIP?: The picture is 14 or 15 years old, but apparently has a prominent place in the Rolls' Kansas home. Photo day at the ballpark in Kansas City, and there is little Damian Rolls, all of 8 or 9, posing with one of his all-time favorite Royals, Hal McRae. "I told him about it the other day," Rolls said. "I said, "You have your arm around me in that picture. Let's take a picture now so I can put my elbow on your head.' Kind of ironic, huh? Picture day in Kansas City and next thing you know you're playing for the guy." This week's series against the Royals should be a happy homecoming for Rolls, who spent many summer evenings in the leftfield stands fighting for foul balls. "I used to sit up there saying, "One of these days, you'll be out there playing,' " Rolls said.

TIME PASSAGES: It was about five years between big-league victories for Rusty Meacham, who pitched Seattle over Anaheim on July 18, 1996, and got the win for the Rays on Tuesday. In between? He played for nine teams in seven organizations; spent four winters in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and one in Hermosillo, Mexico; had a second son, Reese; had surgery on his right knee; built a new house in Stuart; and taught himself to play the guitar. Did it seem that long? "It really didn't dawn on me until you guys told me," he said.

CAST AWAY: Spalding has left the building. Like the Tom Hanks' character in the movie Cast Away, hitting coach Wade Boggs adopted the face-painted volleyball to help through the rough times. But Tuesday, Spalding no longer was perched in his locker. "An overly high tide washed him off the island," Boggs said.

WHAT NEXT?: Dancing groundskeeper McArthur Church was sidelined with a pulled muscle. He hopes to be back by the homestand that starts Friday. "They're talking about putting me on the 15-day DL," he said, "but I think I'll be fine."

The 300 club

We're not sure just what it signifies except longevity and the dearth of quality pitching, but Fred McGriff on Tuesday became the sixth player to hit home runs off 300 different pitchers. The list, with their career totals:

Hank Aaron 755

Reggie Jackson 563

Mark McGwire 555

Barry Bonds 509

Eddie Murray 504

Fred McGriff 424

What they're saying

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci on CNNSI.com: "It is hardly possible that any regular player could have had a worse start than Felix Martinez. The Tampa Bay shortstop hasn't hit much. He had no home runs in his first 100 at-bats while scoring only eight runs. He hasn't walked much, getting only three bases on balls. He hasn't run the bases well, getting thrown out four times in his six tries at stealing a base. You would think such a poor offensive player would at least excel defensively. Not so. His defense has been awful."

Quote of the week

"I'm not surprised by anything anymore. Whatever I hadn't seen before I signed that contract last year, I've seen it here." -- GREG VAUGHN, reacting to Thursday's moves

By the numbers

$38,251.37: Amount Vinny Castilla made daily during 183-day season.

$1,530,054.80: Amount Rays paid Castilla to hit .215 over first 40 days.

$5,469,945.20: Amount Rays will pay Castilla not to play the rest of the season for them.

Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays vs. Rays

After 35 games:

(Year, W-L, Pct., P-GB)

2001, 10-25, .286, 5-10.5

2000, 13-22, .371, 5-9.5

1999, 17-18, .486, 3-4.5

1998, 15-20, .429, 5-11

* * *

Overall

(Year, W-L, .Pct., P-GB)

2001, 46-116*, .284*, ?-??

2000, 69-92, .429, 5-18

1999, 69-93, .426, 5-29

1998, 63-99, .389, 5-51

* projected. P-GB: Place in East Division-games behind first

-- Compiled by Marc Topkin.

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