A blaze of glory

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					                                                                                                                                                                 ****          St. Petersburg Times | Friday, April 1, 2011 |         5X

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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
                                                                                                                                                              George                                Shelton
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
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Padres, Red
                                                    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
every day.
                                                    .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

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