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Tampa Bay Rays, top draft picks relieved to have gotten deals completed

Supplemental pick Drew Vettleson, left, and first-rounder Josh Sale, who likely won’t play any minor-league games until next season, admit they got anxious during the protracted negotiations.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Supplemental pick Drew Vettleson, left, and first-rounder Josh Sale, who likely won’t play any minor-league games until next season, admit they got anxious during the protracted negotiations.

ST. PETERSBURG — Newest Rays Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson and team officials stood together on the field before Tuesday's game, all smiles and optimism after working out deals just before Monday's midnight deadline to sign draft picks.

The two 19-year-old corner outfielders from Washington state talked about the anxious moments they went through huddling at the Renaissance Vinoy as the final negotiations came down and their excitement over becoming professionals.

Vettleson, the supplemental-round pick who got $845,000, talked about how glad he was "the crazy ride" was over. Sale, the first-round pick who got $1.62 million, said it hit him that "it all starts now."

The only negative was why they couldn't have started sooner and had a full summer of minor-league experience. They may have gotten a little more money this way, but they'll be limited to working out with the Gulf Coast League team for the final week or so of the season then return in late September for fall instructional league and not play real games until next spring or summer.

"I think it's definitely better for their development," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "The question is how much worse is it? I don't know the answer.

"The fact is they're Rays, we're excited about that and we're going to do everything we can to get them to the major leagues as quickly as possible. Beyond the talent, their work ethic is off the charts, so that will certainly help and aid in those efforts."

Sale described the negotiating process as "a big poker game" that had to play out even as others, including his good friend Ryan Brett, the Rays' third-round pick, signed.

"When it came down to the end, I was definitely chomping at the bit to play a little bit more," Sale said.

100 CLUB: LF Carl Crawford recorded his 100th career triple, the youngest, at 29, to do so since Stan Musial at 28 and 8 months in 1949. "It's always nice to be in the company of guys with names like that," Crawford said.

He is the first to reach 100 since Kenny Lofton in 2006 and in one uniform since Robin Yount for Milwaukee in 1988.

400 CLUB: Manager Joe Maddon recorded his 400th career win, 381 with the Rays and 19 as Angels' interim manager in 1999.

HIDDEN BALL TRICK: 2B Sean Rodriguez got the expected load of smart-aleck text messages after Monday's odd play when Vlad Guerrero's ground ball ended up inside his shirt.

As odd as it was — even senior adviser Don Zimmer hadn't seen it in his 62 seasons — it actually was the third time it has happened in recent seasons, according to umpiring supervisor Charlie Reliford.

Even weirder, it was the second time 1B/DH Dan Johnson saw it in a month. It happened at Triple-A Durham on a ball Elliot Johnson hit to the outfield.

PITCHING IN: Sidelined RHPs Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann came through Monday's bullpen sessions with no problems and will throw another today. If there are no issues with their previously strained shoulders, they'll pitch a simulated game Friday in Oakland and return to the rotation Aug. 24 and 25 in Anaheim.

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Richard De Los Santos won his 13th game for Durham, tying the franchise Triple-A mark.

MISCELLANY: Maddon will give several regulars a day off on the upcoming road trip, including SS Jason Bartlett, 2B/RF Ben Zobrist and possibly Crawford. … Coach Tom Foley, Rodriguez and 3B Evan Longoria tested a sample of new AstroTurf in the parking lot, and Friedman watched, as the Rays consider a change. … Tampa's Alberto Benejan received one of 12 $5,000 college scholarships after participating in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.

Tampa Bay Rays, top draft picks relieved to have gotten deals completed 08/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 12:30am]
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