**** St. Petersburg Times | Friday, April 1, 2011 | 5X
Baseball 2011 > Rays rays.tampabay.com for more baseball news
A blaze of glory?
BY TOM JONES | Times Staff Writer
t’s like a scene out of one those old Westerns. The aging gunﬁghter, whose best days are behind him, is called upon to save the town. That’s what it must feel like to be Manny
Ramirez and Johnny Damon, two of the Rays’ newest additions. Ramirez turns 39 next month. Damon is 37. Will their time with the Rays be an exclamation point on fab-
ulous baseball careers, or will it be a disappointing end? Here’s a look back at some other veteran hired guns that teams brought in as they neared the ends of their careers.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t:
Pete Rose Joe Morgan Paul Molitor Willie Mays Ken Griffey Jr. Babe Ruth
The game’s all-time hits leader Four years after Pete Rose left the The Hall of Famer spent 15 sea- Perhaps the greatest player in Maybe it’s true. Maybe you can’t The legendary Ruth might not
spent 16 seasons with the Reds Reds to join the Phillies, Rose’s Big sons with the Brewers, batting baseball history had a somewhat go home again. Ken Griffey Jr. is have been a superstar late in his
before joining the Phillies in 1979 Red Machine teammate Joe Mor- .300 or better eight times, before forgettable ending to his career the greatest player in the history career, but he still was produc-
at the age of 38. Who knew that gan went to Philly in 1983. Mor- joining the Blue Jays for three when he joined the Mets in 1972 of the Seattle Mariners. From 1989 tive. In his final season with the
Rose still had another eight sea- gan, 39, joined several others long seasons, playing a key role on after a trade with the Giants. The to 1999, Griffey was a 10-time All- Yankees in 1934, Ruth batted a
sons and nearly 1,200 hits left in in the tooth (42-year-old Rose, Toronto’s 1993 world champion- deal to bring the 41-year-old Mays Star, and he hit at least 40 homers respectable .288 with 22 hom-
him? His five seasons in Phila- 41-year-old Tony Perez, 38-year- ship team. Then Molitor, a native back to New York, where he six times (leading the American ers and 84 RBIs. But it was clear
delphia were solid, especially the old Steve Carlton) to form the of St. Paul, Minn., returned home played for the Giants from 1951 to League four times) and drove in his skills were eroding when the
first three. In 1979, Rose batted “Wheeze Kids,’’ a knockoff of the in 1996 at age 39 for a final three 1957, was seen mostly as a public 100 or more runs seven times. Yankees sold Ruth to the Boston
.331. And during the 1981 strike- famed Philadelphia “Whiz Kids’’ seasons with the Twins. It wasn’t relations move. Mays appeared After spending most of the next Braves in 1935 a few weeks after
shortened season, Rose led the of 1950. Morgan batted .230, more merely a ceremonial homecom- in 135 games over two seasons nine seasons with the Reds and Ruth turned 40. Ruth would
league with 140 hits. But it was than 40 points below his career ing to wrap up his career. For with the Mets, batting .238 with a brief stint with the White Sox, appear in only 28 games with the
the 1980 season when Rose’s average, but he did chip in with 16 three seasons, Molitor continued 14 homers and 44 RBIs. At age 43, Griffey went back to the Mariners Braves, batting .181 with six hom-
presence really paid off. He bat- homers, 59 RBIs and 18 steals as to be productive, batting .341, .305 he became the oldest player to in 2009 at age 39. It turned out to ers in 72 at-bats. Unable to per-
ted .282 with a league-best 42 the Phillies went all the way to the and .281. In 1996, Molitor led the appear in a World Series game in be a debacle. After batting .214 in form at a high level anymore, Ruth
doubles and helped the Phillies to World Series before losing to the league with 225 hits while knock- 1973, but, clearly, he was not the 2009, Griffey was hitting .184 with decided to retire in June of 1935.
their first world championship by Orioles. ing in 113 runs and finishing 13th in same player we all remember. no homers and seven RBIs in 33
hitting .400 in the National League the MVP voting. games in 2010 before he abruptly
Championship Series. retired on June 2.
Rank the Rays Rays coaches
Which players are most key to the Rays’ success? Times beat writer Marc Topkin ranks Joe Maddon
them by value to the 2011 team: No. 70, Manager
Age: 57. Born/lives: Hazleton, Pa./Tampa
Playing career: Played three seasons as Class A
1. Evan Longoria, 3b The $41 million club 16. Jeremy
No.: 3 Age: 25 Hellickson, rhp
R/R 6-2, 210
Rays salaries for 2011 No.: 58 Age: 23 Coaching career: Spent 31 years in the Angels organization, was
Johnny Damon $5,250,000 bench coach for most of the previous 10 before coming to Tampa
302: RBIs in 3 seasons R/R 6-1, 185
Bay for 2006 season.
• Among top 5 players in B.J. Upton 4,825,000 3: Consecutive starts won
MLB. Managing career: Won 2008 AL manager of the year award. Sixth
Ben Zobrist 4,500,000 • No. 5 starter could be AL’s No. 1 rookie.
season with Rays, 404-406.
2. B.J. Upton, cf James Shields 4,250,000 17. Dan Johnson, 1b
No.: 2 Age: 26 Kelly Shoppach 3,000,000 No.: 29 Age: 31
Kyle Farnsworth 2,600,000
Tom Foley Bobby
R/R 6-3, 185 L/R 6-2, 210
Evan Longoria 2,500,000
No. 6, third Ramos
60 40: extra-base hits and 23 22: RBIs to hits in ’10
steals in ’10 Manny Ramirez 2,000,000 • Earned job based on
base No. 7,
• Has had potential, now time to do it. David Price 1,250,000 power potential. Age: 51 bullpen
Born/lives: Age: 55
3. Manny Ramirez, x-J.P. Howell 1,100,000 18. Sean Rodriguez, inf Columbus, Ga./Palm Harbor Born/lives: Calabazar de Sagua,
DH Wade Davis 1,000,000 No.: 1 Age: 25 Playing career: Spent 13 years Cuba/Miami
No.: 24 Age: 38 Dan Johnson 1,000,000 R/R 6-0, 195 in the majors, primarily as a Playing career: Parts of five sea-
R/R 6-0, 225 Joel Peralta 925,000 7: Positions started in ’10 shortstop. sons in majors as catcher.
555: Career HRs, 14th all time Andy Sonnanstine 912,500 • Badly wants chance to do more. Coaching career: 16th season Coaching career: Rejoined Rays
• Goal is good hitting and behavior. Jeff Niemann 903,000 19. Jeff Niemann, rhp with Rays, 10th as third-base in 2006 after six years as Angels’
coach. Has served as major- roving catching instructor. Man-
Juan Cruz 850,000 No.: 34 Age: 28
4. Ben Zobrist, inf/of league coach, minor-league aged GCL Rays in ’97-98, Princ-
Sean Rodriguez 428,600 R/R 6-9, 260 manager, field coordinator,
No.: 18 Age: 29 eton Rays in 1999. Bullpen coach
John Jaso 427,400 .641: Win pct. ’09-10 director of minor-league opera- for Angels from 2000-02.
S/R 6-3, 200
.374: On-base pct. 2009-10 Matt Joyce 426,500 • Very consistent before DL stint. tions.
• Big bounceback would be Reid Brignac 425,400 20. Juan Cruz, rhp Derek
big deal. Adam Russell 420,800 No.: 37 Age: 32 Hendrick No. 17,
Jeremy Hellickson 418,400 R/R 6-2, 165
5. David Price, lhp No. 25, first
Sam Fuld 418,300 12.37: K/9 IP rate in 2008 hitting
No.: 14 Age: 25 base Age: 40
Cesar Ramos 416,700 • Veteran presence needed
L/L 6-6, 225 Age: 60
Jake McGee 415,200 in pen. Born/lives: Carbondale, Ill./
2ND: Finish in Cy Young vote Born/lives: Los Angeles/Las Tampa
• Has to pitch like an ace all year. Elliott Johnson 414,900 21. Andy Vegas
Sonnanstine, rhp Playing career: Played two sea-
Total 41,077,700 Playing career: Four-time All-
6. Kyle Farnsworth, sons in Yankees minor-league
x-on DL No.: 21 Age: 28 Star, 18 seasons in the majors. system as a catcher.
rhp L/R 6-3, 190 Coaching career: Sixth year as Coaching career: Second
No.: 43 Age: 34 63: Rays-high relief innings in first-base coach. Was major- season with Rays after five as
R/R 6-4, 230 11. Joel Peralta, rhp ’10 league coach for Cardinals and Indians hitting coach, worked
27: Saves, though only 1 since No.: 62 Age: 35 • Long man is also fill-in starter. Angels (alongside Maddon in previously in minors for Indians
’06 ’98-99), minor-league coach for and Yankees.
R/R 5-11, 195 22. Jake McGee, lhp
• Will be a key even in closer-less pen. 106: Career minor-league
Dodgers, Padres and Cardinals.
No.: 57 Age: 24 Also in uniform
7. Reid Brignac, ss saves
L/L 6-3, 230 Jim
No. 15: Age: 25 • Strike-thrower could play key role. DON ZIMMER
1: Runs allowed in 8 Hickey (NO. 63), Senior
L/R 6-3, 195 12. Wade Davis, rhp big-league games No. 48, adviser: Eighth
.254: Career big-league aver- • Has upside to be bullpen force. year with Rays.
No.: 40 Age: 25 pitching
R/R 6-5, 220 23. Elliot Johnson, … Managed
• Defense solid, offense a question. Age: 49
12: AL rookie-most wins inf Born/lives: Chicago/St. Cloud Sox, Rangers, Cubs; coached
8. James Shields, rhp • No. 3 starter has ace poten- No.: 9 Age: 27 Playing career: Eight seasons in for Expos, Giants, Rockies, Yan-
No.: 33 Age: 29 tial. S/R 6-0, 190 minors; 36-30, 4.26 ERA. kees. … Played 12 seasons in big
R/R 6-4, 220 13. John Jaso, c 10: Years in Rays organization Coaching career: Fifth season leagues, most with Dodgers.
5.18: ERA in 15-loss ’10 season • In line to be next super-utility man. with Rays; 16 years in Astros STAN BOROSKI (NO. 46),
No.: 28 Age: 27
No. 2 starter can re-prove organization, including 2½ as Assistant to
L/R 6-2, 205 24. Adam Russell, rhp major-league pitching coach, the pitching
59 39: MLB-best BB/K ratio No.: 36 Age: 27 seven at Triple-A New Orleans. coach: Second
9. Johnny Damon, lf • Has to show no 1-year won- R/R 6-8, 255 season with
No.: 22 Age: 37 der. .288: Career avg. by RH batters Dave Rays after 18
L/L 6-2, 205 14. Kelly Shoppach, c • Could be big piece of rebuilt bullpen. Martinez with Astros as
2,571: Career hits No. 4, minor-league coach and scout.
No.: 10 Age: 30 25. Sam Fuld, of … Played six seasons in minors.
• Wants to keep playing bench
R/R 6-0, 220 No.: 5 Age: 29 STAFF: Ron Porterfield, head
.286: Career avg. vs, LHP L/L 5-10, 180 Age: 46 athletic trainer; Paul Harker and
10. Matt Joyce, rf • ’10 flop ripped and ready to 5: Seasons with more BBs Born/lives: Brooklyn, N.Y./Safe- Mark Vinson, assistant train-
No.: 20 Age: 26 rebound. than Ks ty Harbor ers; Kevin Barr, strength and
L/R 6-2, 205 • Will caddy for Damon, pinch-hit, -run. Playing career: Spent 17 sea- conditioning coordinator; Scott
15. J.P. Howell, lhp * sons as big-league outfielder, Cursi, bullpen catcher; Chris Fer-
5: 2-out GWRBI in ’10 26. Cesar Ramos, lhp
No.: 39 Age: 27 including 1998-2000 with Rays. nandez, video coordinator; Chris
• Potential stardom beckons. Westmoreland, equipment/
L/L 6-0, 195 No.: 55 Age: 26 Coaching career: Fourth sea-
24: Wins and saves in 2009 L/L 6-2, 205 son as full-time coach, did spring home clubhouse manager.
• Prompt, strong return from • Has chance to be more than training work previous two
DL is vital. LH specialist. years. Marc Topkin, Times staff writer
* On disabled list