By BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 26, 2000
BALTIMORE -- It has been four weeks since Greg Vaughn strained his shoulder at Kansas City. It may be a few more weeks before he can return to leftfield and stop being the Rays' designated hitter. "He's still not pain-free," manager Larry Rothschild said, "and until he is, he can't even think about starting to throw again. The longer he goes, the longer it's going to take to get the arm back in shape. I'm not going to take any risks with his arm. He's been through two scopes (arthroscopic procedures) and a surgery."
If it gets too late in the season, Rothschild may keep him out of the outfield until next season. "Right now, he still has time (to play the outfield). If he gets rid if the soreness and gets back to where he can play the outfield a little bit," he would be handed his glove and told to get back out there.
It hasn't meant much to Rothschild that he has been able to give Steve Cox and Jason Tyner more playing time in leftfield. "No, all it is is an opening in left. I could still DH him a couple of times a week and take a look at the other guys."
HE'S HONORED: Charleston outfielder Josh Hamilton, No. 1 pick in the 1999 draft, was named co-MVP of the South Atlantic League despite missing the final month of the season because of knee surgery. He shares the honor with catcher J.R. House, a Pittsburgh minor-leaguer.
Hamilton, who batted .301 with 23 doubles, 13 home runs, 61 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 96 games, also was named the league's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect.
Outfielder Carl Crawford, the Rays' No. 2 pick last year, joined Hamilton on the SAL year-end all-star team. He is batting .308 with 54 RBI and 54 stolen bases.
HERE'S THE STRETCH: The Devil Rays return home Monday to face the Red Sox. From then to the end of the season, the Rays will be playing pennant and wild-card contenders, except for four games starting Thursday against Kansas City. The final 10 games are against division rivals Toronto, New York and Boston.
The Rays would love to wreck a few post-season plans, but that should not be their motivation, closer Roberto Hernandez said.
"It shouldn't play into that," he said. "We should be playing hard regardless of who we're playing, including teams that are not (contenders). Teams that are looking to get into the playoffs, if we can play the spoiler role I'll be tickled.
"Like Chicago," said Hernandez, a member of the White Sox for seven seasons. "I hope they go all the way, but I was hoping we would sweep every game we play against them. That's the attitude you've got to take. You want to wish them well, but not at our expense."
RAYS BITS: Today's doubleheader is the fourth in Rays history, They split two in 1998 against Detroit and Boston, then lost both games April 28 at Chicago. ... If Fred McGriff hits a home run in this series at Camden Yards, he will tie Mark McGwire of the Cardinals with home runs in 37 ballparks, most in the majors. Comerica Park in Detroit is the other one McGriff is missing.