Rays Welcome Back Piniella
Lou Piniella
Lou Piniella

Posted Jun 17, 2008


The Tampa Bay Rays will be face-to-face with two of their former managers the next three days as the Cubs come to town with manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

The Tampa Bay Rays will be face-to-face with two of their former managers the next three days as the Cubs come to town with manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Piniella managed the Rays from 2003-05 and was 200-285 before negotiating a buyout of the final year of his contract. Rothschild was the team's first manager, going 205-294 from 1998-2001, getting fired 14 games into his fourth season.

"Everybody still remembers Lou around here," said left fielder Carl Crawford, one of five active Rays (plus injured Rocco Baldelli) remaining from Piniella's 2003-05 tenure. "We still remember like it was yesterday. We can still feel Lou around here a little bit. I can."

"It's always nice to see him. Me and Lou, we never had no problems or anything like that. I learned a lot just watching him manage on a day-to-day basis. It's easy for me to say playing for him actually helped my development in the big leagues a lot, so I'm thankful for that."

Current bench coach Dave Martinez is one of only two men who played for Rothschild and are still in a Rays uniform, joining Dan Wheeler, and praised the first-time skipper.

"He's a good guy," Martinez said. "I think everyone knows he had his hands tied. I think he got blamed for more than was his fault. He had a tough group, trying to blend young kids who didn't have a lot of experience with some veteran guys."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Edwin Jackson may start serving his five-game suspension as soon as Tuesday. It's also possible Jackson will wait until Thursday, after RHP James Shields completes his. Or it could be delayed longer if Jackson decides to appeal.

--LF Carl Crawford is serving the last of his four-game suspension Tuesday, and 2B Akinori Iwamura is expected to start his three-game ban Wednesday.

--OFs B.J. Upton and Gabe Gross had a mix-up on a fly ball to right-center for the second straight Sunday. Last week in Texas, it was when they didn't hear each other; this week, it was when they both heard the other call for it and stopped. "As much as that is a reason it happened, there's still no excuse," Gross said. "That just should never happen."

--B.J. Upton has already matched last season's career high of 22 stolen bases (in 30 attempts) and should continue to improve, manager Joe Maddon said. "As he gains more experience, he becomes better at it," Maddon said. "I think he's choosing better spots to go and has a better idea of what he wants to do," Maddon said. "He's been thrown out a couple times on calls that were wrong, quite frankly, so it could even be a better percentage than it is."

--OF Rocco Baldelli played the first game of his rehab assignment at Class A Vero Beach as the DH on Monday. Baldelli had been sidelined since spring training with a rare condition that causes muscle fatigue in his legs. He finished the night 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBIs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,683 -- Number of games it took for the Rays to lose 1,000 times, matching the Padres for fewest among the 14 expansion teams.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's kind of like a recovering emotionalist." -- Manager Joe Maddon, on RHP Matt Garza working to keep his emotions in check.

ROSTER REPORT RHP Al Reyes (right shoulder tendinitis) was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 15. Reyes has been on the DL twice this season.

RHP Troy Percival (left hamstring strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 29. He began throwing bullpen sessions June 4 and was activated on June 13.

1B Carlos Pena (fractured left index finger) went on the 15-day disabled list June 4. He likely won't be ready when eligible June 19, but manager Joe Maddon said he expects it to be only a "minimal time" after that.

OF/DH Rocco Baldelli (leg fatigue) opened the season on the 60-day disabled list and is out indefinitely because of a condition that saps his leg strength, even after a short workout. He was playing in extended spring training games in early June and was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment June 16.

RHP Chad Orvella (sore right shoulder) opened the season on the 15-day disabled list, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 13. He had season-ending surgery May 23 to repair an impingement.

Rays Content:

As Lou Piniella returns to Tropicana Field tonight, it is easy to wonder where the club would be if he was still manager. The Rays are better off with Joe Maddon, however, writes Gary Shelton.

Several Rays who were here during Piniella's tenure as skipper remember him fondly, writes Marc Topkin.

Perhaps the Cubs skipper learned patience during his time in St. Pete, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.

Price Check: Top prospect David Price started on the hill for the Vero Beach Devil Rays on Monday night, scattering four hits and an earned run in 5.0 innings. Price, the first overall selection of the June 2007 draft, struck out seven while walking two. With the win, he is now 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA, posting an excellent 30-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five starts. In 28.1 innings pitched overall this season, the left-hander has given up 23 hits and four earned runs while limiting hitters to a .225 average against.

Tyler Hissey contributed to this report.



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