Whenever White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen leaves Tropicana Field, as he will after this afternoon's finale, he has reason for reflection. Though he's identified with the White Sox given his 20 years in the organization, Guillen actually retired from playing as a Ray — technically, a Devil Ray.
"If you couldn't make the Devil Rays, you had to quit," Guillen joked the other day. "You didn't belong in the big leagues."
Guillen (who, by the way, now raves about their turnaround) spent the 2000 season with the Rays, appearing at all four infield positions, then was released at the end of spring training 2001. His 2000 season multicolored jersey hangs in his house, as well as his unique parting gift: the new green 2001 jersey he never got to wear.
He also has a unique distinction: "It's funny, I'm the only player who played for the Rays and managed in the big leagues."
He's not, however, the only player known for what he did elsewhere but — oddly — ended his major-league career in a Rays uniform.
2B Roberto Alomar, spring 2005: Best to forget spring training fiasco.
3B Wade Boggs, 1999: From the Trop to the Hall of Fame.
RHP Juan Guzman, 2000: But those five outs he got sure were great.
RHP Ken Hill, 2001: Couldn't add to his 117 career wins.
C Charles Johnson, 2005: Probably not the best 19 games he played.
1B Travis Lee, 2006: Hmm, it seemed like he'd retired years before.
1B Fred McGriff, 2004: Tried hard for the last 7 HRs to 500.
RHP Troy Percival, 2009: Played heavyweight role in '08 success.
LHP John Rocker, 2003: Guessing he didn't take the train home.
DH Paul Sorrento, 1999: A trivia answer anyway as he hit Rays' first grand slam.
The Rays are going with an all-NHL jersey theme for today's trip to Toronto, but here's one interesting side note: None of them actually played ice hockey. Not even the three who grew up in northern climes, Andy Sonnanstine (Ohio), Dan Wheeler (Rhode Island) and Ben Zobrist (Illinois). "Never even been on skates," said Wheeler, violating what has to be some kind of Northeast man law.
Manager Joe Maddon (Hazleton, Pa.) tried it once but broke a rib, pitching coach Jim Hickey (Chicago) played around in frozen-over yards, and a few did the street hockey thing. (And if you watch when the Rays take batting practice, there's actually a hockey drill as they "pass" and "shoot" the bunted balls.) C John Jaso may best look the part, but the closest the Rays have to an actual hockey player is SoCal kid James Shields, who was heavy into roller hockey, playing defense, filling in at goalie and showing off "a pretty good slapshot."
And he would absolutely relish the chance to try it on the ice. "I had a blast," Shields said. "If I could play any other team sport, it would definitely be hockey, no doubt."
Baseball America projects the Rays to take Oviedo High RHP A.J. Cole with the No. 17 pick in the June 7 draft, espn.com's Keith Law says Cal-State Fullerton SS Christian Colon, and fanhouse.com tabs Miami C Yasmani Grandal. … OF LeVon Washington's decision to not sign with the Rays as the 30th pick last year looks even worse as he's projected to fall into the second round, or lower, after a disappointing season at Chipola Junior College. … Unsigned second-round pick Kenny Diekroeger hit .362 as a (non-draft eligible) freshman for Stanford. … The Rays also get compensation picks — at No. 31 for not signing Washington and No. 42 for the loss of C Gregg Zaun via free agency.
Just when it appeared the other 29 teams lost his number, Pat Burrell found interest from his hometown Giants on a minor-league deal. … Even after Friday's game, David Price is first in ESPN.com's stat-based AL Cy Young Predictor, with Rafael Soriano second, Jeff Niemann sixth and James Shields eighth. … Joe Maddon wrote the forward for Tim Salmon's just-released book, Always An Angel. … Triple-A Durham could face phenom Stephen Strasburg next weekend in Syracuse if he isn't called up by the Nats. … Looks like another good call by the Rays, as C Gregg Zaun's season (and possibly career) is over due to shoulder issues after just 28 games in Milwaukee.
Got a minute? Hank Blalock
Best meal you can make? Dry-rubbed pork tenderloin, with a roasted banana/sweet potato puree and a blanched broccolini.
Late-night TV? Man vs. Wild — it's the best show on TV, hands down.
Time-killer at the mall? Brookstone or Sharper Image.
Late-night snack? Dark chocolate-covered almonds.
Dream vacation spot? Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.