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Players find life after Rays in post-season action

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 8, 2000


NEW YORK -- The post-season has been filled with former Devil Rays. There's Rick White and Bubba Trammell with the Mets, Jim Mecir with the A's, Jose Canseco and Dwight Gooden with the Yankees, Herbert Perry and Tony Graffanino with the White Sox, Joe Oliver with the Mariners, spring training invitee John Burkett with the Braves.

White wonders why.

"I was talking to Herbert the other day about all the guys we had that weren't good enough for play for us, or just didn't play with us for some reason, that are on playoff teams," White said Saturday.

"I never could figure out why we couldn't win down there. I'd like to think it's not 'cause of me or anything. They've gotten rid of quite a few guys and they still aren't winning, so I don't think it's any of the guys they've gotten rid of. ... For some reason over those three years it didn't seem like we were going anywhere. We were kind of taking steps back."

White, an original Devil Ray, would have preferred to stay in Tampa Bay, hoping to sign a long-term deal. But after four long months with the Rays, he has enjoyed his whirlwind tour with the Mets.

"It's been great," White said. "It's been like being in a cloud. Winning the wild card and celebrating was awesome. I'd never been on a winning team before. I didn't know what to do as far as popping the champagne bottle. I had to have guys pop the cork for me."

FAMILIAR FACES: Scheduled Game 4 starters Mark Gardner and Bobby Jones will meet in a big-league game for the first time today, but they hardly need to get acquainted.

Both went to Fresno State (though at different times), both still live in the Fresno, Calif., area, both work together on a charitable foundation called Step Up to the Plate.

"Actually, me and Mark are the best of friends," Jones said. "This is the first time we've faced each other, and it is an important game. I'm sure when we get back home it probably won't be talked about."

While Jones said he has been told he would start tonight, there is some speculation Mets manager Bobby Valentine -- always looking for an edge -- may make a late change.

MISCELLANY: Giants manager Dusty Baker said it seems unlikely Shawn Estes, who was hurt in Game 2, will pitch again this series and could be done for the season.

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