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Canseco can answer Question 1 in person

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 23, 1999


ST. PETERSBURG -- Jose Canseco was the Rays' most significant off-season acquisition, but there was some question whether he would be on the field for the team's first full-squad workout this morning.

Monday evening, not even his agent knew. "Actually, I'm waiting to find out myself," Juan Iglesias said from Miami.

The Rays said they expected Canseco to show up, but that was only because they hadn't been told otherwise. Iglesias said he thought Canseco was going to make it over from his Fort Lauderdale home but hadn't been able to speak with him to confirm. "The position players are supposed to report, and I'm expecting everyone to be there," general manager Chuck LaMar said. "They either report or they don't report, and you find out why they didn't report."

The Rays expect big things from Canseco on the field and in the clubhouse. Manager Larry Rothschild hopes to see them start today.

"I'd like everyone to be here," Rothschild said. "We're a team. When we take the field, it would be nice to take it as a team."

Under the labor agreement, players are not required to report until March 2 and are not subject to fines until then.

With the exception of IF Herbert Perry, who is recovering from injury, the Rays expected all other players on the 76-man spring roster to be on hand.

Rothschild, LaMar and other team officials will address the players; then the real work will begin. Rothschild said his staff has done all the necessary preparation. "If there is anything left to do, I can't think of it." WORKING OVERTIME: With that many players in uniform, Rothschild and the coaching staff will handle double duty for the next week. Players are split into two groups, a morning session that starts at 9:30 and an afternoon one that starts about 1. Most of the veterans and name players are in the morning group, and the younger and non-roster players are in the afternoon. But Rothschild said the divisions don't have much significance.

"It's got nothing to do with anything except better working numbers," he said. "I'm trying to get some guys together that I need to see together."

In addition to the returning veterans, the morning group includes C Joe Oliver; Ps Roger Bailey, Norm Charlton, Dave Eiland and Bobby Witt; IF Julio Franco; and OFs Terrell Lowery and Canseco.

TAKE THAT: The opening of full-squad workouts also means the start of live batting practice, with the first session set for 11 a.m. The pitchers, who have been throwing for at least a week, should be ahead of the hitters.

"I would hope so," pitching coach Rick Williams said.

Pitchers scheduled to throw today include Wilson Alvarez and Roberto Hernandez.

JUST CHILLING: Baseballs were in the air, but it felt like pretty good weather for a snowball fight. At noon, the temperature at the training complex was 48 degrees, and that didn't account for a biting wind. Baseball weather? "If you're an Eskimo, maybe," Rothschild said. "We got all our work in, and if you kept moving, you could stay pretty warm."

COMINGS AND GOINGS: New Triple-A hitting coach George Foster was scheduled to be an instructor in major-league camp but has been delayed to take care of undisclosed personal business. Insted, he will report to minor-league camp, which opens March 4. ... OF Billy Ashley, a non-roster invitee who played last season in Boston organization, reported Monday afternoon.

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