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Mets bench sits better with Bubba

The former Ray hasn't given up hope of starting, but at least he's on a winning team.

By BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000


ST. LOUIS -- Bubba Trammell still wants to start. But 2 1/2 months and about 1,500 miles removed from Tampa Bay, and still playing long after his former Devil Rays teammates have gone home for the year, Trammell is far more accepting of his role on the New York Mets bench.

"I know exactly what my role is now," Trammell, a Rays fan favorite, said a couple of hours before the Mets and Cardinals began Game 1 of their National League Championship Series.

"My role is, when they bring in a lefty and, say, the pitcher's spot (in the lineup) is coming up and we're down some runs, I'll be the one in the game."

Or if there's a right-hander on the mound and the Mets have used Lenny Harris and Daryl Hamilton, Trammell will be called on to pinch-hit.

"That's my job, and I try to be as well-prepared for it as I can be," he said.

It's almost as tough for Trammell not playing full time for the Mets as it was with the Devil Rays.

"I think anybody who doesn't want to be in the lineup doesn't need to be playing this game," he said, "and I still feel that, given a full year of playing every day, I'd show I deserve to play every day.

"Hopefully, one day I'll get that chance. Some guys don't get it until late in their careers. Maybe I'll be that kind of guy."

Winning, Trammell said, makes riding the bench more tolerable. Players ahead of him are winning games for the Mets. That wasn't necessarily the case with the Rays.

On a losing team, players sometimes tend to look out for themselves. From his first day with the Mets, he said, he found everyone pulling for one another. The clubhouse atmosphere is laid back, he said, but the support the players give each other is obvious: "It was all about winning, and that's why this team wins."

He wasn't saying the Rays didn't want to win, Trammell insisted, "but the (clubhouse) atmosphere wasn't as pleasant. Maybe there was some selfishness on everybody's part, even on my part. I don't know. Here, it's all about the team."

Winning, he agreed, makes it easier to think in one-for-all-and-all-for-one terms.

After finishing the 1999 season with a strong September, Trammell said, "I took a deep breath, a sigh of relief. It was like, "Thank you. I'm finally going to get my chance (in 2000) to play every day and prove to these guys what I can do.' "

But it didn't happen -- again.

Suddenly, he was a Met, along with relief pitcher Rick White, traded for pitcher Paul Wilson and outfielder Jason Tyner.

Does he expect to be back with the Mets in 2001?

"I found out very quickly that you never know what's going to happen in this game," he said. "There's a chance I'll be (with the Mets), and if I am, hopefully I'll get the chance to play.

"For now, though, I'm just having fun. I may never get back here (to the post-season) again."

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