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Rookie catcher Hall named IL MVP

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 30, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- When he got a call from Rays general manager Chuck LaMar on Wednesday, rookie catcher Toby Hall wasn't exactly sure what he was about to hear.

LaMar, as it turned out, just wanted to let Hall know he'd been chosen MVP of the International League.

"It was kind of funny," said Hall, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham on July 25.

He hit .335 with 19 home runs and 72 RBI in 94 games for the Bulls and was MVP of the Futures All-Star Game July 8 in Seattle.

"To be named that is nice and a great honor," Hall said. "I look back at it and I had a lot of good experiences, a lot of peaks and valleys that I've learned from."

Hall is the second Rays player in three years to be selected International League MVP. First baseman Steve Cox hit .341 with 25 homers and 127 RBI in 1999 for Durham.

"It's like going from college to pro," Rays manager Hal McRae said. "It means that he was a successful Triple-A player, which says he has some ability. ... It means that he should have a solid foundation."

CHARGE!: Mariners players and coaches chuckled at postgame replays of a bizarre play in the second inning involving catcher Tom Lampkin and third baseman David Bell.

"Turns out that it really didn't hurt us," Lampkin said, "but it was kind of a weird play."

Lampkin hit a line drive that Rays rightfielder Ben Grieve apparently lost in the lights. Bell, who was on first, thought Grieve caught the ball and started jogging back to first.

But Lampkin sprinted around first unaware that Bell had stopped and ran past his teammate. Lampkin was called out on the play for passing Bell but got credit for a single.

"Our catcher was running like the malt liquor bull around first," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "He didn't see our runner coming back the other way. It's aggressive, but anyway." NO, THANK YOU: Jason Giambi in a Rays uniform?

Don't dare dream it.

The A's first baseman and reigning American League MVP is a free agent at the end of the season and plans to play for a contender next season.

Oakland has offered a six-year, $90-million extension.

"I don't really want to see myself going to Tampa," Giambi told the Baltimore Sun. "Why do you want to take a step backward? Not to say they're not going in the right direction.

"But when you get an opportunity for what you've done in your career and you get a chance to win, you want to stay with a winning team."

PRINCETON HONORS: Princeton centerfielder Johnny Gomes was named MVP of the Appalachian League. Gomes hit .291 with a league-leading 16 homers and 44 RBI in 62 games.

Greg "Toe" Nash finished at .240 with 10 doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI for Princeton.

ODDS AND ENDS: Jason Standridge pitched 42/3 innings for Double-A Orlando on Tuesday and allowed five runs on nine hits. The right-hander is expected to join the Rays when rosters expand Sept. 1. ... The Apopka team that lost the Little League World Series championship game to Japan on Sunday will be honored on the field before the game Sept. 15. ... Cal Ripken's visit last week helped raise $21,480 for charity. That includes the $5,000 the Rays donated to the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation on Aug. 23.

Today: Rays at Mariners, 7:15

WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg.

RADIO: WFLA-AM 970, WLCC-AM 760 (Spanish).

TODAY'S PROMOTION: Seniors can purchase a lower deck outfield ticket, hot dog and soda for $12 or an upper general admission ticket, hot dog and soda for $7.

TICKETS: Available at stadium box office; through Ticketmaster phone and retail outlets; and at team stores in WestShore Plaza, Brandon TownCenter and BayWalk.

INFORMATION: 1-888-FAN-RAYS.

The pitchers

RYAN RUPE: Rupe (5-10, 7.02) is 0-3 in four career starts against the Mariners. In his last outing against Baltimore on Aug. 22, the right-hander allowed five runs on nine hits. He struck out five and walked one.

FREDDY GARCIA: Garcia (14-5, 3.33) is 4-4 since the break. Two wins have come this month. He pitched eight innings and allowed two runs on six hits while striking out five and walking six against Cleveland on Saturday.

You don't say

"USC, USC, USC." -- chant heard during Al Martin's at-bat in the third inning. The Seattle Times reported Tuesday that the Mariners leftfielder never played football for the Trojans, as he has claimed for years.

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