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Boggs won't let 3,000 signal end

There has been tremendous focus on reaching 3,000 hits, but Wade Boggs reiterated Wednesday that he does not consider the milestone a stop sign to his career.

"I'm not ready to give up the game yet," Boggs, 41, said. "I'm on the verge of hitting .300, my defense is as good as it's ever been and the game is still fun. I don't want 3,000 to be a termination of my career. I want to continue to play and do the things that I've done and keep going."

Boggs says he doesn't know how long he would like to keep playing, but he plans to be in uniform next season. The Devil Rays hold an option to bring him back, but there have not been any conversations about 2000.

"There will be time enough to do that in the off-season and sit down with them and see what their future plans are, which I have no idea," Boggs said.

GM Chuck LaMar said he has not thought about Boggs' situation but plans to address it later in the season.

Boggs said part of the reason he signed with the Rays was to help build a solid franchise.

"That's the decision I made to come over here, to start with something that's on the ground floor and work its way up to a winning organization," he said. "I wanted to be part of that, and in order to do that it's going to take some time down the road."

PRESIDENTIAL TIMBER: American League president Gene Budig will be at Tropicana Field on Friday and will stick around to congratulate Boggs when he gets to 3,000. The Boggs congratulations card will be available to be signed today at 10:15 a.m. at the St. Petersburg PAL building (1450 16th St. N), 11:30 at St. Petersburg City Hall, 1:30 p.m. at Tyrone Square Mall and a Boys and Girls Club dinner at the Bayfront Center starting at 6 p.m.

RUPIN' THE WIN: Manager Larry Rothschild says rookie RHP Ryan Rupe has pitched better than his numbers (5-6, 4.66 ERA), Tuesday's game a prime example. Rupe, a sixth-round pick in the June 1998 draft, allowed six hits in five innings but gave up two home runs and was victimized by some less-than-stellar defense as the Rays lost 5-2. "I think he's had a much better year," Rothschild said. "I think there's room for improvement and he knows that. That's going to come with time and everything else. He's handled himself through a lot of adversity during the course of games, staying composed. I don't know that it's possible to put into words the kind of jump he's made." Rupe, however, says he has considerably more work to do. "I've given up my share of hits and runs. As much as you critique your numbers, they're still your numbers."

MIGUEL MOVING: 2B Miguel Cairo, idle since July 26 with a strained left hamstring, went through a thorough workout with no problems and appears set to return to active duty when eligible Tuesday. "I don't think there's going to be a problem there unless there's another injury that comes up, but the injury seems to be healed," Rothschild said. SS Kevin Stocker (sore left knee) continues to improve, but Rothschild said he's a long shot to play on the six-game homestand.

FAMILIAR FACE: The Rays had some first-hand knowledge of Seattle rookie starter Gil Meche: Bullpen coach Orlando Gomez was Meche's manager at Class A Everett in 1997. "He had a lot of talent and he was mature then," Gomez said.

THE SAVIOR: Roberto Hernandez ranks second in the latest AL Rolaids Relief Man standings, three points behind Texas' John Wetteland. Hernandez has 74 points in the scoring system based on wins, saves and blown saves.

RAYS BITS: OF Dave Martinez, who is in a 1-for-18 slump, was scratched from Wednesday's game with back stiffness. C John Flaherty, 0-for-11 in his past three games, didn't start Wednesday.