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Ex-Mariner lands in St. Petersburg

The first cut may be the deepest, but it didn't hurt John Daniels too badly.

Daniels was cut by Seattle Thursday and spent about 48 hours among the unemployed before the Devil Rays called and offered a ticket to Tampa Bay.

"The way it's turned out, this may have been the best thing for me," Daniels said after his first workout with the Rays.

Daniels, a 16th-round pick by the Mariners in 1993, pitched well in four minor-league seasons but apparently did not impress the Seattle brass. Daniels' ERA was 2.66 to 3.70 every season.

"When they called me in that morning, being released was the last thing I expected," Daniels said. "They questioned my arm strength. I guess they like guys who throw in the 90s.

"I'm never going to be a power pitcher, but I can throw in the mid-80s, I'm a sinkerball guy and I've got good control."

Rays scouting director Dan Jennings, who came from the Mariners organization, was familiar with Daniels, a right-hander.

Daniels, who has pitched two years in Class A, should give depth to the Rays' Florida State League team.

"We had a scout who saw him pitch in the California League last year and thought he looked good," personnel director Bill Livesey said. "Between that report and Dan Jennings, we felt he was a guy who could help us."

SEAY-ING IS BELIEVING: Bobby Seay finished spring the way he began _ impressively.

The Rays left-handed pitcher threw four innings against the Yankees, giving up one run on two hits and striking out four. Of the 16 batters he faced, three hit the ball out of the infield.

"If this was my last game here, I felt pretty good about it," Seay said. "It was good to keep the momentum going."

Seay has thrown eight innings in intrasquad and exhibition games, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out eight.

With the Rays completing their spring schedule Saturday, Seay will not pitch again until the Charleston regular season begins next week, pitching coordinator Jackie Brown said.

ON THE TABLE: Pitcher Shelby Rama, released recently by Philadelphia, said the Rays have offered a contract.

Rama, who was 7-3 with a 2.92 ERA with the Clearwater Phillies last season, said he also is talking to the Diamondbacks and holding out hope for a chance to pitch in Double A this season.

ON SALE: Tickets for the first two St. Petersburg Devil Rays games at Al Lang Stadium will go on sale at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The home opener is April 3 against the Lakeland Tigers. The second game is April 5 against the Clearwater Phillies. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. Box seats are $5 each _ or $9 if purchased for both games _ and are available at the stadium box office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

LATE SPRING: Spring training is just about finished and Ed Kofler is just getting started.

The pitcher from Tarpon Springs has been limited in workouts because of a minor shoulder strain but said he hopes to be pitching in extended spring games in two weeks.

Kofler, Tampa Bay's third-round pick last summer, has been doing exercises with weighted balls and throwing softly on the side. He also has been fighting the urge to do more.

"Jackie Brown always comes by and tells me, "You're not in a hurry. Let's take care of yourself first,'

" Kofler said. "And he's right. I understand it. I'm frustrated and I want to go, but if I get in too much of a hurry I can hurt myself and I'll be back to the drawing board."

GAME RECAPS: Matt Quatraro and Jared Sandberg hit home runs and Brian Becker and Alex Sanchez each had three hits in Charleston's 12-4 victory against the Yankees. Seay got the victory and Trent Brown threw two hitless innings of relief.

The St. Petersburg Rays beat the Cardinals 7-4 with Denis Pujals throwing four shutout innings and Thomas McKinnon hitting a homer. Rick White pitched one hitless inning of relief.

Did you know?

If you think the Braves-Indians trade happened suddenly Tuesday, Rays outfielder Andre King has a story to tell you. While playing for the Braves' minor-league team in Durham in 1995, King and his teammates were in Prince William awaiting a doubleheader against the White Sox farm team. "The game was late getting started, and you could tell something was going on," King said. "We were all in the clubhouse wondering if there was a trade coming up." Sure enough, the trade was announced at the end of a White Sox game thousands of miles away. The White Sox traded big-league outfielder Mike Devereaux to the Braves for King. He grabbed his bag in the visitors' clubhouse and walked across the field to join his new teammates with Prince William. "It was a weird situation," King said. "Talk about emotions. I had spent all of this time with the Braves and now I'm playing a doubleheader against them. I was leaving behind all of my friends. I played with tears in my eyes."

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