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RAYS TALES

Rays pitcher Bobby Witt is kind of like the Forrest Gump of baseball _ he keeps showing up where history is happening. Throughout his 14-year career, Witt has seen some amazing feats.

He was with Texas when Nolan Ryan recorded his 5,000th strikeout, won his 300th game and threw his sixth and seventh no-hitters. "All of that stuff with Nolan was awesome," Witt said.

He also was on hand for Dave Winfield's 3,000th hit, Don Sutton's 300th victory, Ramon Martinez's no-hitter, and even Dale Mohorcic's record of pitching in 13 consecutive games.

And then there was last season, when Witt was traded to St. Louis at midseason and saw Mark McGwire complete his record homer run to 70. "That stuff was unbelievable," Witt said. "Just to watch it, and watch him."

The latest addition to Witt's list was Wade Boggs' 3,000th hit, a game in which Witt was the starting pitcher. Witt has a number of signed bats, balls and even one of McGwire's shoes as souvenirs from the events but says he most treasures the memories. "I'm pretty fortunate to be part of these things and see history like that," Witt said. "It's really incredible."

Being around all those milestones has Witt, 35, thinking about one of his own: "I'd like to play in three decades."

Boggs is expected to donate his shoes, hat, batting gloves, and jersey from his 3,000-hit night to the Hall of Fame during the Aug. 22 tribute. Boggs has some bats and other miscellaneous items on display in Cooperstown from other accomplishments, but says this will be different because those are scattered throughout the year-by-year displays. "They've got a wing called the 3,000-hit club," Boggs said, "and I get to move into that wing. It's kind like moving into the west wing of the White House."

It didn't take Mickey Callaway long to get packed when he was sent back to Durham last week. "I've been living out of two suitcases all year," Callaway said. "No problem." Like a number of the Rays' Triple-A players, Callaway "lived" at an extended stay motel in Durham when the Bulls were home, then checked out and packed all of his stuff in his car when the team was on the road. "I've been living in hotels since March," Callaway said.

POWER HITTERS

Obviously it was a surprise that Boggs' 3,000th hit was a home run; only 117 of his previous 2,999 hits left the ballpark, less than 4 percent. While power is not among the initiation requirements to join the 3,000-hit club, Boggs ranks in the bottom third in terms of homers, and several of those below him played before the 1930s. Here's a look, from most to least:

Player Hits HRs

Hank Aaron 3,771 755

Willie Mays 3,283 660

Eddie Murray 3,255 504

Stan Musial 3,630 475

Dave Winfield 3,110 465

Carl Yastrzemski 3,419 452

Al Kaline 3,007 399

George Brett 3,154 317

Robin Yount 3,142 251

R. Clemente 3,000 240

Player Hits HRs

Paul Molitor 3,319 239

Pete Rose 4,256 160

Lou Brock 3,023 149

Tony Gwynn 3,008 128

WADE BOGGS 3,003 118

Ty Cobb 4,191 117

Tris Speaker 3,515 117

Paul Waner 3,152 113

Honus Wagner 3,430 101

Rod Carew 3,053 92

Nap Lajoie 3,252 82

Eddie Collins 3,309 47

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Fox sports-talker Jim Rome, continuing a weeklong diatribe against Boggs: "Clearly now you see why I was pulling so hard for Tony Gwynn to get to 3,000 first. Yeah, Wade Boggs isn't selfish, but his father is criticizing a manager (Joe Torre) who chose chasing a championship over helping his son plant his flag in the mountain before Tony Gwynn. Guess I was right all along."

DISABLED LIST

Player Injury Exp. return

Jose Canseco, DH back surgery late August

Rick Gorecki, RHP shoulder Uncertain

Cory Lidle, RHP elbow Uncertain

Quinton McCracken, OF knee 2000

Jim Mecir, RHP elbow 2000

Herb Perry, INF muscle strain September

Tony Saunders, LHP broken arm 2000

Kevin Stocker, SS sore knee late August

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"The last thing Larry said was, "Have fun with it.' That's the last thing running through your mind is trying to have fun when you've got major-league hitters walking up to the plate."

_ WADE BOGGS, on his Tuesday night relief appearance

BY THE NUMBERS

3: Games in which the Rays have given up 20 or more hits.

19: Games in which the Rays have given up 10 or more runs.

24: Teams with higher average home attendance than the Rays.

_ MARC TOPKIN

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