The paying customers were not the only ones hoping Wade Boggs would reach 3,000 hits early in the homestand.
Rookie pitcher Mickey Callaway knows he is a candidate to return to Triple-A Durham today and was hoping Boggs would make history while he was still around.
"Yeah, exactly. He needs to hurry up," Callaway said before Boggs got No. 3,000 with a sixth-inning home run, his third hit of the night.
The Devil Rays are expected to activate Wilson Alvarez from the disabled list today to pitch against the Indians. Callaway was called up from Triple A shortly after Alvarez went on the DL and took his spot in the rotation.
Callaway, who had a stint with the Rays earlier in the season, made two starts and was 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA. Overall, he is 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA.
Callaway, 24, has been in the bullpen the past two games.
"I thought the last start the ball came out of his hand better than the previous start," manager Larry Rothschild said. "He's a young pitcher who is getting adjusted here, and it's going to take some time."
Alvarez, meanwhile, is anxious to get back after his second trip to the disabled list. He has not pitched since throwing six innings of one-run ball to beat the Mets July 17.
"Just give me the ball. I'm ready to go," Alvarez said. "It's boring sitting around here all the time. I need to pitch."
Alvarez likely will be limited to around six innings or 85 pitches today.
VOICES OF EXPERIENCE: Albie Lopez and Mike Duvall had oblique muscle pulls this season and spent a month recuperating. When Herbert Perry had a similar strain near his rib cage, they warned him it would be a lengthy rehab.
Perry did not think his injury was as serious. Two weeks later, he believes his teammates.
"They told me this is how long it's going to be, and it turned out they were right," Perry said. "They said you'll just wake up one day and it'll feel better. So I keep waking up."
Perry said the muscle causes great discomfort when he turns sharply or sneezes. He has not been able to swing a full-sized bat since being injured while running the bases in New York on July 21.
TAKING STOCK: SS Kevin Stocker, on the DL since July 22 with tendinitis in his left knee, may not return before Tampa Bay's next homestand Aug. 20.
"The rest has been good because the sharp pain is gone. I'm able to walk up stairs without feeling the pain anymore," Stocker said. "But I was hoping by now it would feel great, and I'm really not there yet."
Stocker is hitting balls off the batting tee and hopes to start batting practice by Monday. The big test is fielding drills and the Rays have no timetable for that.
PRESIDENTIAL SPEAK: American League president Gene Budig has been at the Trop this weekend to experience the Boggs festivities.
"Think about it. This community has been given a unique opportunity to identify with one of the greatest pure hitters in the game and a future Hall of Famer," Budig said. "Very few communities have had that privilege.
"It should generate tremendous enthusiasm for the game in the community."
RAYS BITS: Centerfielders are an endangered species in the Indians' lockerroom. Cleveland placed All-Star Kenny Lofton (strained right hamstring) and Jacob Cruz (torn ligament in the right thumb) on the DL. Lofton injured his hamstring in Detroit on July 27. Cruz injured his thumb sliding into second base in the seventh inning Friday. He will have surgery Monday in Cleveland and could be out from eight weeks to the season. Doris Doren celebrated her 104th birthday at Tropicana Field and chatted with Budig.
_ JOHN ROMANO, ROGER MILLS