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Rays' first GM looks forward and back

ST. PETERSBURG — Chuck LaMar was working hard Friday night, one of the five Phillies officials at the Trop preparing extensive scouting reports for a potential World Series matchup.

But the original and longtime GM of the Rays also paused to reflect on how his former team has progressed, if not the irony of the possible pairing.

LaMar said he would be "less than candid to say I'm not sitting here tonight" thinking back to all the time and effort that he and his staff put into building the Rays.

LaMar said he was proud that more than half the players on the roster were either carried over from his regime, which ended in October 2005, or obtained by current executive VP Andrew Friedman with players that were.

"I think it's a tremendous compliment, not only to Andrew and his staff for taking the great players left them and doing what's best for the organization in keeping the ones they did and trading the others, and they've done a fabulous job of that, but you have to have those players to do that," LaMar said. "And that's a compliment for all the years of hard work and scouting that were done."

LaMar predicted in the spring that the Rays would be much improved but admitted Friday they got to this stage about a year sooner than he expected. And while the baseball world knows the tale, and the job Friedman and manager Joe Maddon have done, LaMar said, "They have yet to recognize that they're as talented as any team left in the playoffs from a pure ability standpoint."

LaMar also said he was glad to see former managing general partner Vince Naimoli "through all the trials and tribulations being recognized now as the man who brought baseball to Tampa Bay."

ROSTER RUMINATIONS: The Rays dropped OF Eric Hinske from the roster to add RHP Edwin Jackson and have an extra arm in their bullpen. And with Jackson now the primary long reliever, they will use rookie LHP David Price in some more potentially intriguing situations. They started Friday, Price coming in with two outs in the ninth to face (and retire) one batter.

"We wanted length and we wanted something that permitted us to use David as something other than just long or extra innings," Maddon said.

Dropping Hinske, who hit 20 homers and played in 133 games, was difficult but made the most sense with the Rays confident LF Carl Crawford is healthy and comfortable with rookie OF Fernando Perez as the backup. "(Hinske) has done a wonderful job for us all year long," Maddon said. "We would not be in this position without him."

EDWIN EXCITED: Jackson was all smiles Thursday when he found out he was being added to the ALCS roster, and he expressed his excitement Friday when it became official.

The best part: "It's a chance to go out and be part of a team, I was part of the team anyway, but to be able go out on the field and actually play and help win a game."

Jackson hasn't pitched since the Sept. 28 season finale, but he said he felt fine having thrown in an instructional league game and several bullpen sessions.

NO MICKEY MOUSE OPERATION: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said it was "doubtful" the Rays would move a 2009 series to Disney, as they did this season and last, but they "certainly haven't ruled out" going back at some point.

MISCELLANY: The Sox combined on the 22nd shutout in ALCS history, the fourth in an opener. … The Rays joined the 1991 Twins as the only teams to go from last place one year to the ALCS the next. … Friday's was the 24th ALCS game played indoors; dome teams are 9-15. … Maddon plans to use the same lineup tonight, with Gabe Gross in RF and Cliff Floyd as DH.

Rays' first GM looks forward and back 10/10/08 [Last modified: Saturday, October 11, 2008 1:10am]
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