There had never been an All-Star Game with more Tampa Bay Rays fingerprints on it before last year, when LHP Scott Kazmir, 3B Evan Longoria and C Dioner Navarro played key roles in New York. Until this year anyway. With Joe Maddon managing, six coaches coaching, bullpen catcher Scott Cursi catching and between three to five of their players playing, it's going to be a Rays team meeting. Longoria is set as the first Ray to be elected by the fans and start an All-Star Game. Jose Canseco — remember him as a Ray? — was voted in as the starting DH in 1999 but couldn't play after hurting his back. With the teams to be announced today, here's a quick look back at the Rays who have gone (often only because someone had to go) and what they've done.
Rolando Arrojo, rhp
Arrojo allows two hits but retires Andres Galarraga to post an important zero in the sixth inning at Coors Field and help maintain the lead the AL had just taken.
Jose Canseco, dh Roberto Hernandez, rhp
Canseco is scratched due to a back injury. Hernandez works a quick seven-pitch eighth, getting three groundouts in Boston.
Fred McGriff, 1b Larry Rothschild, coach
McGriff's return to Atlanta is anticlimactic. He fouls out in the eighth and strikes out against Trevor Hoffman with two on to end the ninth, though the AL wins. Rothschild works with Joe Torre and Lou Piniella.
Greg Vaughn, of
An example of honorary representation as Vaughn is injured and can't play. But because he goes to Seattle, no other Ray is chosen.
Randy Winn, of
Winn makes three plate appearances as a sub in Milwaukee: doubling; walking, stealing second and scoring the Rays' first All-Star run and striking out.
Lance Carter, rhp
A different kind of honorary representation. Carter is the oddest of the Rays' selections as AL manager Mike Scioscia (assisted by Joe Maddon) can't find room for more-deserving Rocco Baldelli or Aubrey Huff. Carter goes to Comiskey Park but doesn't pitch.
Carl Crawford, of
Going home to myriad festivities in Houston, Crawford goes 0-for-2, striking out and grounding out to end innings, but plays five innings in the field.
Danys Baez, rhp
Baez, in the midst of a 41-save season, is worthy of the trip to Detroit but spends his time watching, one of two pitchers not used by Terry Francona.
Scott Kazmir, lhp
Kaz works a perfect sixth in Pittsburgh, retiring Freddy Sanchez, Carlos Beltran and Albert Pujols on nine pitches, though there is some later grumbling that he warmed up for too long.
Carl Crawford, of
Crawford's trip to San Francisco is memorable as he hits the Rays' first All-Star homer (off Francisco Cordero with two outs in the sixth), makes a catch and plays the final five innings.
Scott Kazmir, lhp Evan Longoria, 3b Dioner Navarro, c
Longoria, who won the fan vote for the 32nd spot at Yankee Stadium, pinch hits in the eighth and gets four at-bats: doubling in the tying run, grounding out with the bases loaded and striking out twice. Navarro, who pinch hits in the seventh, has a full day, throwing a ball away (the first Rays error), throwing out a runner and in the last of his five trips to the plate singling in the middle of the winning rally in the 15th. And Kazmir, who isn't supposed to pitch having thrown six innings two days earlier, works the 15th and gets the win, the first Ray to do so.
ESPN The Magazine had lots of praise in vaulting the Rays from 75th to 16th in its annual pro sports franchise rankings, ranking them first among 122 in affordability and calling them "the most gently priced team" in the four major sports "thanks, in part, to free parking and programs." Ownership was middling (ranked 48th) and stadium experience low (106th), in part, due to low attendance. By the way, the Bucs were 73rd overall and Lightning 85th. … Pat Burrell has been the third-worst free agent signing to this point, SI.com's Jon Heyman writes, after the Cubs' Milton Bradley and the Mets' Oliver Perez. … Evan Longoria was the only unanimous selection in ESPN's poll of its staffers to pick the All-Star starters and the only Ray as SS Jason Bartlett lost out to Derek Jeter in a 17-13 vote. … Burrell's wife, Michelle, on Monday opens the Soho Cycling Studio in downtown Tampa (2017 W Kennedy) offering classes of "50-minute rides followed by intense abdominal workouts." … BetUS.com has the Rays even money (2-2) as the next Florida pro team to win a championship, behind only the Magic. Also posed is an interesting bet: Will Carl Crawford finish with more stolen bases or RBIs? (It was 40-38 steals through Friday.) … RHP John Meloan, acquired for Winston Abreu, was ranked Cleveland's 18th-best prospect by Baseball America and had a 20-strikeout game among three no-hitters for Houston's Taylor High.
Got a minute? Rays INF Joe Dillon
Best meal you can make?
Cedar plank salmon. … On the grill with salt, pepper, garlic. You can make a sauce for it.
The Ultimate Fighter
Top song on your iPod?
Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Favorite vacation spot?
Lake Tahoe. I used to go there every summer when I was a kid.
Dream date, with your wife, Tilleri's, permission?
Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.