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Williams could see old mates tonight

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 29, 2001


BOSTON -- Turns out, the Rays will see Gerald Williams again.

Like maybe later today.

Released Sunday by Tampa Bay, Williams has agreed to sign with the Yankees and could be in uniform tonight when the Rays open a four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

While the Rays will pay virtually all Williams' $3-million salary this season plus a $250,000 buyout, the Yankees agreed to sign him for next season in a deal worth about $2-million. The Mariners, Cardinals and Rockies also were said to have interest in the 34-year-old outfielder.

Williams' agent, Seth Levinson, had threatened to file a grievance over the release because Williams was 66 plate appearances shy of vesting a $4-million option for next season. It was unclear whether Levinson would follow through with the grievance in hope of recouping the additional $2-million.

Williams came up with the Yankees and played parts of five seasons with them before being traded to Milwaukee in August 1996.

Williams, the Rays' MVP in 2000, was hitting .207 at the time of his release.

With Williams in a New York uniform, the Rays will have to change the signs they use to signal strategy to hitters and baserunners.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Manager Hal McRae enjoys the theater and the restaurants. It's the rest of the New York experience he can do without.

"I'm not a New York kind of person," McRae said.

McRae's feelings were shaped during his playing days, when his Royals engaged in four hard-fought playoff series against the Yankees in five years.

"I don't like New York," McRae said. "I hate New York. I don't like all the crowds, all the people, all the traffic. It's just different. . . . In the playoffs in '76, they would throw batteries, liquor bottles, all kinds of stuff. I had trouble catching flyballs because they were throwing stuff at my head."

HAMSTRUNG: Outfielder Randy Winn has been out of the lineup the past two nights because of a slightly pulled left hamstring. "It shouldn't be long," Winn said. . . . Fred McGriff continues to be slowed by a sore left hamstring, and it is uncertain when he will return to the field. He will continue to be the DH to keep his bat in the lineup.

FAMILIAR FACE: Left-hander Bill Pulsipher was released out of spring training but is now pitching well enough to be part of the Boston bullpen. Pulsipher, who was 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and 10 saves at Triple-A Pawtucket, was called up Thursday. He worked two scoreless innings against the Rays.

RAYS BITS: Closer Esteban Yan, put on the disabled list June 22, threw a bullpen session in St. Petersburg with no problems and appears on schedule to be activated July 7. ... With two hits, McGriff raised his average for June to .397. ... Ben Grieve hit his sixth homer in the team's 78th game. He has never had that few at this point in any season. ... The Rays are 6-6 in one-run games.

MINOR MATTERS: Orlando outfielder Carl Crawford will play for the Southern League team in the Double-A All-Star Game on July 11. He was hitting .284 with 2 homers, 29 RBI and a league-best 21 steals going into Thursday's games. . . . Heralded prospect Toe Nash struck out four times Tuesday against Rick Ankiel, who is working on his control with St. Louis' rookie-level team.

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