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Metrodome lends memories to McRae

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 18, 2001


MINNEAPOLIS -- The manager's desk and locker occupy the same corner in the visitors clubhouse at the Metrodome, 10 years after Hal McRae asked for them to be moved.

"The manager has the worst seat," he said.

It's one of several memories McRae has of the dome where his managerial career began with the Royals on May 24, 1991.

"My wife was here and my son (Brian) was on the club," said McRae, who was Kansas City's manager from 1991 until he was fired in 1994. "I was nervous, very nervous because I had never done it before.

"I didn't try to do very much. I used the coaching staff a lot because it was my first game."

Among those on McRae's first coaching staff was Glenn Ezell, who was hired as the Rays bullpen coach Aug. 4. Ezell held the same position with Kansas City in 1991.

"I don't remember the game, but I remember when we were all in that coaches office, he called us in there," Ezell said. "He shut the door and told us, "Let me tell you what. I'm a hittin' guy. I've never managed. The only thing I ask of you guys is that you don't let us make fools of ourselves.'

"That has stuck with me. . . ."

By the way, the Royals lost their first two games under McRae's guidance against Minnesota.

SECOND FIRST: His career is so new that making a second start against the same team could be considered a milestone for Nick Bierbrodt.

But the Rays left-hander doesn't look at today's start against the Twins -- his second in six days -- that way.

"I wouldn't say it's a milestone," Bierbrodt said. "It's a normal start but it just happens to be against the team I pitched against last time. It will be a learning experience for me."

His 10th career major-league start comes six days after he held the Twins to two hits over seven innings in his first win since being traded from the Diamondbacks.

"I'm going to do what I did last time until they hit me," Bierbrodt said, "and then I'll try something else."

BOSTON FALLOUT: Like many managers, McRae said he was "shocked" to learn Boston fired Jimy Williams and replaced him with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan on Thursday.

"You fire a manager and hire a manager that has never managed before and you're in a pennant race," McRae said. "What does it say? I don't know what it says. That's shocking in itself. And it's very courageous."

GETTING AGGRESSIVE: After Friday's game, Ben Grieve 10 for his past 28 at the plate, an improvement considering he was 0-for-16 before that.

Grieve leads the team with 67 walks.

"Sometimes (players) get in a rut and they're not aggressive enough and they take too many pitches," McRae said. "Normally it doesn't last all year. It's a short-term thing and not a long-term thing.

"He's become a little more aggressive as of late, but he takes too many pitches."

ODDS AND ENDS: Third baseman Jared Sandberg did not start Friday and will rest again today. ... Although Steve Cox is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, McRae said the first baseman may not join the Rays immediately. Cox is on the 15-day DL with a strained back. ... The Rays will make a $5,000 donation to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation during a pregame ceremony that will include a video tribute to Cal Ripken Jr. before Thursday's game at Tropicana Field. Ripken will throw out the first pitch to McRae.

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