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Spring Training Archive

This section will include stories to help get you wound up for Spring Training. They will be culled from staff reports as they are received. We hope they give a feel of the sounds, sights and tastes of Major League Baseball here in Tampa Bay.

For McGriff, it's prove it or lose it
Millions hinge on performance in walk year. [3/21]

Johnson sneaking up in fight for rotation
ST. PETERSBURG -- Among the candidates for spots in the rotation, Jason Johnson has been the quiet one.

In brother, Naimoli has lost his ballast
Ray Naimoli, who died last week, handled some very important matters as the team's chief financial officer. But he did even more as the confidant to his older brother, managing general partner Vince Naimoli.

Zimmer hopes fun is short-lived
ST. PETERSBURG -- Eleven days ago, Don Zimmer was put in charge of the best team in baseball. Eight days later, he was given permission to enjoy it.

Oliver pushes away plate in hopes of playing behind it
ST. PETERSBURG -- Baseball was a weight-and-see proposition to Joe Oliver last season. He put on too much weight, and he could see what it was doing to his once-bright career. [3/20]

Which lefty will be Mr. Right?
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Devil Rays arrived in spring training looking for a dependable left-handed reliever. As far as manager Larry Rothschild is concerned, the search is still on.

Abreu hits power switch
Phillies rightfielder has been hitting the weight room, which helped him hit 10 of his 17 homers late last season.

Steinbrenner fumes over Strawberry miscommunication
ST. PETERSBURG -- An angered George Steinbrenner ordered Yankees GM Brian Cashman home Friday because of a miscommunication concerning Darryl Strawberry.

The leader of the hit squad
Rays coach Leon Roberts is counting on making a difference. [3/19]

Ashleys add to their lineup
FORT MYERS -- When he called his wife in California after Monday night's game, Billy Ashley had good news to report. After struggling with a groin injury, the outfielder/DH finally had gotten in the lineup and had three hits, including a home run.

Cone enjoys perfection
TAMPA -- David Cone said before his start against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night that he probably would throw about 80 pitches before leaving.

Oriole rides winds of change
Calvin Pickering left the hurricane-prone Virgin Islands for Temple Terrace -- and an opportunity at the major league level that now seems imminent.

Rays not in a rush to get rid of Rupe
Rookie's sparkling 0.00 ERA in three spring appearances is turning some heads. [3/17]

Davis, Eiland, Gaillard among latest vets cut
CLEARWATER -- For a young team, the Devil Rays have cut loose a lot of veterans during the past week.

Sinking fast in the West? Padres say it's just not so
The defending NL champs lost some star power but still have a $48-million payroll.

Clemens looks strong against ex-teammates
TAMPA -- It was not a sight Toronto fans were hoping to see soon, but there he was, Roger Clemens -- a Blue Jay less than one month ago -- on the mound in a Yankees uniform.

Canseco has power to the third degree
ST. PETERSBURG -- Filling the No.3 hole in a lineup is a priority for every team in baseball. Particularly in Tampa Bay, where that spot literally was a hole in 1998. [3/16]

Ray Naimoli dies of cancer at 56
Rays' chief financial officer was brother of managing general partner Vince.

Two Canseco homers mark his brief return
ST. PETERSBURG -- It's only spring training, but Jose Canseco provided a powerful glimpse Monday of just what the future could hold.

Kelly no longer haunted by questions of 'What if?'
Former No. 2 overall pick is what he is, and that's okay. [3/15]

For Martinez, centerfield might be right position
ST. PETERSBURG -- Dave Martinez may find himself the center of attention this season.

The battle of his life
Darryl Strawberry has beaten pitchers. He talks about beating cancer.

Torre expected to meet team, discuss situation
TAMPA -- Manager Joe Torre is expected to meet his players today, the New York Times reported. It will be the first time he will speak to the team collectively since last week, when he learned he has prostate cancer. Others in the organization said he will give the players details of his treatment and an estimate of how long he will be away.

Wheels start spinning in Rays rotation battle
Team is studying vast number of factors as six compete for two spots.

They're off and pitching
A look at the top candidates for the open spots in the rotation:

His status ambiguous, Sorrento stays upbeat
This wasn't exactly what Paul Sorrento expected when he signed with the Devil Rays.

Reliever Alan Newman's three seasons pitching for Alexandria in the independent Texas-Louisiana League turned out to be quite an experience. "It has that Sunday softball feel to it," Newman said.

Little ball still in arsenal
TAMPA -- The Rays imported Jose Canseco to hit the long ball, but that doesn't mean they're going to abandon their short game.


Reds future may arrive quickly
The stated goal in Cincinnati was to be a contender by the time a new ballpark was built in 2002. The plan has gone awry. Somehow, the Reds goofed and made themselves contenders way ahead of schedule.

Wells draws eyes, throws 0s
DUNEDIN -- Seven photographers stood in a row behind home plate, and the crowd at Dunedin Stadium applauded when the Blue Jays headed onto the field for the sixth inning Saturday.

Keystone craftsmen
Alomar joins Vizquel to give Indians one of game's slickest infield duos.

Baseball helps heal heartache
In one week, Rich Butler lost a friend, an uncle and very nearly his grandmother. [3/13]

Big Hurt trying to put pain of lost season behind him
White Sox star says he won't let off-field problems distract him again.

Saunders feeling down about raising strike zone
ST. PETERSBURG -- The strike zone is on the rise and so is Tony Saunders' blood pressure.

Zimmer sits in for Torre
TAMPA -- When Don Zimmer broke into professional baseball, he played 71 games for minor-league Cambridge, filling in whenever he was needed.

Duvall rearmed and ready
Lefty recovers lost velocity in second bid to join Rays bullpen. [3/12]

Woes compel club to plan cuts
ST. PETERSBURG -- Larry Rothschild has seen enough. And that's not good news for a number of Devil Rays.

Rocket sterling in Legends debut
TAMPA -- It turns out Roger Clemens was saving his best for the home crowd.

More Yankee misfortune: Torre has prostate cancer
Joe Torre, the manager of the world champion New York Yankees, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and left the team Wednesday to begin treatment.

Dismaying news leaves Yankees to wonder: Why?
Manager Joe Torre's cancer -- the latest in a run of misfortune -- casts a pall over the world champions. [3/11]

News darkens Strawberry return
FORT MYERS -- On the day the Yankees learned manager Joe Torre has prostate cancer, Darryl Strawberry made his first appearance in a game since colon cancer surgery.

No way will Jose play OF for Rays
To avoid getting hurt or pulled from games for defense, Canseco will aim for the fences as a full-time DH.

Hamilton won't fret over tipping pitches
ST. PETERSBURG -- In Joey Hamilton's first appearance with Toronto on Friday, it seemed as if the Yankees' hitters knew what was coming. As it turns out, they might have.

Wade sharper in second go
ST. PETERSBURG -- The pitches may have been the same, but the results sure were better for Terrell Wade on Wednesday.

Rays can pay now -- or later
Young players present a dilemma when it comes to contract negotiations. [3/10]

Oliver shines at plate but wants job behind it
LAKELAND -- Joe Oliver is the third catcher on a team that likely will employ only two. To find a spot on the roster, Oliver needs to do something to change Tampa Bay's thinking.

Who else can match legend of DiMaggio?
He is frozen there in his greatness. His arms are extended, and his hips are turned, and his hawklike profile is staring into the ages. More than half a century has left some grain in the picture, but a legend never fades, and there was enough of Joe DiMaggio showing to merit putting the photo on the front page of the newspaper.

Reds are all wound for mound rebound
The arrival of Steve Avery and Denny Neagle is expected to give Cincinnati's rotation a much-needed shot in the arm.

Carpenter mows down Twins
DUNEDIN -- Pitching for the first since the spring opener, Chris Carpenter allowed one run in four innings as the Jays beat the Twins 6-4 on Tuesday.

Arrojo's debut shows pitcher near top form
His only concern is adjusting to a new delivery designed to prevent batters from picking up on the pitch. [3/9]

Yanks, fans revere legend
Although few knew DiMaggio, tributes pile up at Yankees game for hero.

Record is bad, but play is what worries Rothschild
PORT CHARLOTTE -- The Devil Rays lost their fourth straight exhibition game Monday, making them the only Grapefruit League team without a win. Worse, they again looked bad in losing.

Orioles' trip to Cuba will play in history [3/8]

Pettitte leaves early with mild arm strain

Rays' Saunders: With a little more support

Opportunity knocks, time and time again

Tony's tale

Arrojo, his life in order, settles down, settles in

Braves too much for Wade

Selig tune is music to Rays' ears

Fernandez has 'awesome day'

Getting to next level: Only winning will do

Royals spoil Clemens debut

Football still plays on Jordan's mind

Outfield jobs center on Winn
Randy Winn's spring showing will determine not only where he plays but where other Rays do. [3/3]

Arrojo agrees to year, ponders longer deal
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays brought their final 10 players under contract Tuesday, and may have taken a big step toward securing the future of a key member of their pitching staff in the process. [3/3]

A Hall of Fame relationship
Rick Williams says his dad managed to win and give him a great childhood, too. [3/2]

Alvarez's splitter gets mixed results
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wilson Alvarez is working on a split-finger pitch, hoping it helps put last season's 6-14 record behind him. Based on Monday's performance, he has some more work to do. [3/2]

Changeup may save his career
Pitcher Bobby Munoz revamps his lifestyle in hopes of making Rays. [3/1]

Lamb stands out, but for how long?
ST. PETERSBURG -- The game was short and sweet for David Lamb. [3/1]

Out with the OLD, in with the NEW
Which was worse? Last season, or living with it during the winter? Rays veterans vow redemption in '99. [2/28]

Non-roster invitees renew acquaintances
ST. PETERSBURG -- They grew up in nearby small Florida panhandle towns, playing against each other in youth leagues and high school and together on the same American Legion team. Both attended Florida State and helped pitch the Seminoles into the 1992 College World Series.[2/28]

Rays scour Earth for a good lefty
At least 10 left-handers will compete for one or two limited yet crucial bullpen roles. [2/27]

Smith planning to be fixture at hot corner
ST. PETERSBURG -- Two lockers away is Jose Canseco, who likely will take the No. 3 spot in the batting order. In the corner is Wade Boggs, who rightfully is going to grab the spotlight, and perhaps some playing time, as he approaches 3,000 hits.

Fielder's focus back on field
His wife improving after a severe accident, the slugger is trying to restart career with Jays.

Duo puts on guard against Rocket
TAMPA -- Roger Clemens pitched batting practice for the first time as a Yankee Friday, and SS Derek Jeter and 2B Chuck Knoblauch had a unique way of welcoming the Rocket. Both donned full catcher's garb before stepping in against Clemens, recently acquired in a trade with Toronto.

Yankees rotation sends heads spinning
TAMPA -- Fans and coaches got a glimpse of things to come Monday morning as all five starters worked out for the first time as a group. [2/23]

Wells breaks silence to pieces
The traded Yankee rips the media, speaks fondly of New York and says he is ready to move on as a Blue Jay. [2/23]

Clearly, Boggs likes his outlook
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wade Boggs has 3,000 hits in his sights this season, and he is going to see the milestone coming in sharper focus.

Canseco can answer Question 1 in person
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. [2/23]

Elated Clemens ready to earn his pinstripes
He starts new job with brief bullpen session. [2/21]

BP helps new coach get in swing of things

Naimoli ponders life in the other league

Catchers provide Rays home protection
DiFelice and Flaherty might not produce runs, but they help Tampa Bay pitchers prevent them. [2/20]

Day after trade calm for Yanks
TAMPA -- The day after dealing with the distraction of the blockbuster trade that sent David Wells to Toronto for Roger Clemens, it was back to concentrating on the season for Yankees players and coaches Friday.

Phillies' Ogea excited to hit restart button
Former Indian has battled injuries, complacency and teammates for a chance to pitch regularly. Now he's ready to take on hitters every fifth day.

McGriff optimistic about 1999 season
ST. PETERSBURG -- Fred McGriff showed up at spring training Friday and admitted he didn't have much of a happy homecoming last season. The Tampa native struggled on the field and was stung by the accompanying criticism.

McCracken reveals knee is strained
OF was hurt during talks, should heal by opener. [2/19]

Yankees add a Rocket
Post-season hero David Wells, two others head to Toronto in a deal for the five-time Cy Young winner.

It's never too early to take the field
ST. PETERSBURG -- On the other side of the headlights, a new season was waiting. As the man behind the wheel moved toward the future, his mind was racing as fast as his automobile.

Surgery lets Saunders throw 'free and easy'
ST. PETERSBURG -- His surgery was described as minor. Tony Saunders would beg to differ.

Emotions mixed on day of deal
TAMPA -- Seemingly lost Thursday in the hype surrounding the David Wells-for-Roger Clemens trade was the first official day of spring training for the world champions.

This year, hope rings familiar
Today the Devil Rays open spring training with a new source of comfort: They've done it before. [2/18]

Single-game tickets on sale
WHAT'S GOING ON: Autographs from more than 40 Rays players and coaches, kids activities, Q-and-A sessions with team personnel, interactive batting practice, speed pitch, clubhouse tours, extreme Rays zone. [2/13]

McCracken, Rays cut a deal
The outfielder gets a $1.85-million contract, and the team avoids its first arbitration hearing. [2/9]

Promise rebuilding for Gorecki
He'll probably be a little behind and off to the side during the early weeks of spring training, but Rick Gorecki should not be forgotten. [2/7]

Rays sign catcher Joe Oliver
Minor-league deal will get 33-year-old into camp. [2/4]

Rays add 5 pitchers to roster
In addition to Witt, Valdes and Cooke, Charlton and Ontiveros create depth entering the spring. [1/21]

Devil Rays add pitcher Witt
Former Tampa Jesuit star Marc Valdes reaches terms. Ben McDonald and Steve Cooke are expected to sign this week. [1/20]


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