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Martinez first step toward bridging past

Manager Joe Maddon said the Devil Rays have to start building some tradition.

One way is to make former players a visible part of the team. What better place to start, Maddon said, than with Dave Martinez, who played pretty good outfield for Tampa Bay from 1998-2000 and is working as a special instructor.

"Every long journey begins with a first step," Maddon said Monday. "Our journey to tradition is beginning now. You have to start somewhere, so we're starting with David. We chose him because he exemplifies the type of baseball player we want here, fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game."

"It's a great opportunity to come back and help," said Martinez, 41, who lives in Clearwater with his wife and four children and hit the franchise's first inside-the-park home run. "I'm very happy."

Martinez is a rover during workouts, giving what he called "friendly advice" but working mostly with the outfielders.

"The talent here in the outfield is unbelievable," he said. "Every outfielder is totally committed to the game, even the young guys."

Maddon said he wants more former Rays involved: "It's 2006. By the year 2050, we're going to have a pretty good tradition here. It's got to start somewhere. The Yankees had to start somewhere. We're starting right now."

MORE MARTINEZ: He said outfielders, generally, do not throw enough to strengthen their arms.

"They've gotten away from the fundamentals," said Martinez, whose arm was well-respected. "I threw long toss every other day and I consistently worked on my arm. Ten to 15 minutes during batting practice, I'd catch ground balls and get in position to throw."

INTRASQUAD: The game at 10:30 a.m. today is free and open to the public and is a nice change for players working on the basics since Feb. 17.

"It's not exactly boring, but you have something competitive inside you that wants top pitch against a live hitter," right-hander Doug Waechter said. "You want to get somebody out."

Maddon called the game a "controled scrimmage." Pitchers will have a pitch count. Baserunning situations will be concocted and each inning will end with a bunt play.

"I want to see some kind of fundamental execution more than anything," Maddon said.

LAUDING LUGO: Maddon called shortstop Julio Lugo "a gem.

"The man is so impressive. Everything he does out there is right on. And the look on his face, really, really professional. A very impressive man."

Maddon said he wasn't surprised Lugo has a reputation as a hustling player.

"He practices hard every day," Maddon said. "What he does out there is high quality, so it just follows he would be high quality in a game."

Lugo said even if he is traded, as many expect, he is planning to file for free agency after the season. Not that he's ruling out signing a long-term deal somewhere, but, "I'd like to see what's out there. It's a good situation to be in."

MISCELLANY: The players meet today with leaders from the Players Association. The team led by hitting coach Steve Henderson won the Rays' charity golf tournament at the Vinoy in a playoff over pitcher Chris Seddon's team. Both shot 59 in the scramble format.

- DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times staff writer