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Boggs to chase 3,000 as a Ray

Tampa Bay picks up the veteran's option for 1999 and adds one for 2000 in case he falls short of the hits milestone.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 1998


ST. PETERSBURG -- Wade Boggs should get his 3,000th hit as a Devil Ray. That was virtually assured Friday when the team put him under contract for 1999 and added an option for 2000. He also could get his first coaching job with them.


Boggs, 40, said he won't consider 3,000 hits "a termination point" in his career. [Times files]

The Rays decided to bring Boggs back next season because they said he can help their team as he marches toward history. He enters the season 78 hits shy of 3,000, and he said the chance to get there representing his hometown team is an appealing thought.

"It's going to mean a lot," Boggs said. "My roots and foundation are with Tampa. I started playing Little League here, I went through all my growing up years learning how to play baseball in Tampa. This will be sort of the culmination, the by-product of all that dedication. ... It will be something not only myself and my family can enjoy, but the fans of Tampa Bay can also enjoy. One of their own accomplishing something very meaningful."

The Rays decided to exercise the 1999 option after Boggs hit .280 with seven homers and 63 RBI while providing inspiration and leadership to a first-year team. "Wade earned the right to come back and be part of us improving and becoming more competitive in 1999," general manager Chuck LaMar said.

They added the 2000 option as a safeguard if he falls short of 3,000. "This gives him the opportunity to stay in a Devil Rays uniform longer and ensures him and the fans of Tampa Bay he is going to get his 3,000th hit in a Devil Rays uniform," LaMar said.

Boggs, 40, said he won't consider 3,000 hits "a termination point" in his career and would play as long as he enjoyed doing so. He also said he has warmed considerably toward the idea of coaching ("It's a viable option," he said) and eventually even managing, and he could see staying with the organization for quite a while, starting perhaps as a hitting coach.

"We discussed a lot of things today about my future with Tampa Bay, whether it's in a coaching capacity or a public service contract," Boggs said. "We discussed a lot of options that are very positive about the direction my future's going to go with Tampa Bay."

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LaMar said the Rays are concerned with Boggs as a player, but that "if I had to look at the criteria of what makes a successful major-league coach, he has many if not all of those."

Manager Larry Rothschild said he expects to use Boggs in a role similar to 1998, when he started 106 games and made 481 plate appearances. Rothschild said Boggs would play third base, DH and "might play some first base."

Details of the contract extension were not announced. Boggs made $1.15-million in 1998 -- a base salary of $500,000 plus incentives of $650,000 based on plate appearances. He is due to receive a $750,000 base in 1999, with the opportunity to make up to $750,000 in similar incentives.

 

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