The Rays and Red Sox can't seem to play nice.
When they were last together Thursday at the Trop, the Sox were upset that Manny Ramirez was hit twice by pitches and were making threatening comments that they were tired of such abuse from Tampa Bay pitchers.
"When you see teams play like that, you get mad, and I was," Boston's Johnny Damon said. "Beaning guys is a very dangerous business, so we'll put it in our memories and be ready to play them in a couple of days."
That day is today, as the teams open a four-game series with a day-night doubleheader.
Rays manager Hal McRae doesn't expect problems, at least from the Rays' perspective.
"There's nothing going on," McRae said. "If they want to think it's going on, fine. But there's nothing going on. They're making too much of nothing."
Esteban Yan was ejected after hitting Ramirez in the helmet in the ninth inning. He said he was not throwing at the Sox slugger and Ramirez seemed to agree, but Yan was ejected because a warning had been issued. The Rays are awaiting word if Yan will be suspended.
Though the matchup has been extremely one-sided _ the Sox have won all eight games this season and 22 of the past 27 _ there have been some interesting moments.
In 2000, there was the Pedro Martinez-Gerald Williams confrontation that led to an onfield skirmish and a slew of ejections. In May, after an exchange of hit batters, Boston's Trot Nixon's bat somehow ended up flying toward Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe, leading to a series of accusations and two Boston suspensions.
WELCOME BACK: Outfielder Carl Crawford, concerned about getting back into the United States from Canada without the passport he left in Durham, N.C., had no problems.
DOUBLE DUTY: The Rays are playing a doubleheader today because they were rained out April 28. They are playing a day-night doubleheader so the Red Sox can make twice as much money by charging two separate admissions.
The result will be one long day at the ballpark for the players and coaches. "It's a split (doubleheader) for the gate, not for the players," McRae said.
The Rays regulars are scheduled to play both games expect for shortstop Chris Gomez. Toby Hall and John Flaherty each will catch one game.
SHOT IN THE ARM: Sometimes roster moves are made to make the team better. Other times, like the Rays' latest shuffle, they are made to make the team feel better about itself.
"What it does is lend hope to what you're trying to accomplish," McRae said. "When you're winning, you hate to make changes. When you're losing, to make a change is good for morale."
There also is value, McRae said, in showing the players and the fans "we're not content with the way things are going."
The problem is that the better spirits don't necessarily lead to improved results. After shaking up the roster three weeks ago, the Rays went on something of a roll, winning four out of five. Then they lost 14 of the next 15, leading to the latest shuffle.
"Initially you get a shot in the arm from it but it doesn't last very long," McRae said. "You get penicillin for a couple days, but after that the flu comes back.
"But it's good to get that shot, I think."
_ MARC TOPKIN
TODAY: RAYS AT RED SOX
WORTH NOTING: Sturtze, a Worcester, Mass., native, is 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA in eight starts against the Sox. Sturtze has received the worst run support, 2.9 per nine innings, of any pitcher in the majors. Wilson is 2-4 with a 4.87 in 10 appearances against Boston. Wilson hasn't won since May 12. Wakefield is 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA against the Rays, including eight hitless innings in a June 19, 2001, start. In three starts against the Rays this season, including his April 27 no-hitter, Lowe has allowed eight hits and four runs in 24 innings. Overall he is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA against them.