Q-BALL: CF Quinton McCracken was out of the starting lineup for the first time. "He looked like right now he could use a little break," Rothschild said. McCracken, with two hits in his previous 13 plate appearances, said he didn't mind. "I could use a break; my body's a little worn," he said. "I played most of the spring training games and all the games here." Dave Martinez started in center and batted leadoff. It was Martinez's first centerfield start since Sept. 15 for the White Sox against Milwaukee.
RAISE THE ROOF: Tropicana Field quickly is gaining a reputation for quirkiness, but the Rays stepped into the reigning palace of zaniness Wednesday. At least once a season there is usually a hilarious video clip of a fielder losing a ball against the white roof. To combat that, the Rays had their outfielders take extra fly balls before batting practice. They also get a report on each stadium from advance scout Bart Johnson and listen to what the veteran players have to say about the park. "It's a typical domed stadium, a good hitters' park," former Twin Paul Sorrento said. "It's tough to see fly balls, real tough on guys not used to playing here."
_ MARC TOPKIN