The last time Jesse Litsch was on the Tropicana Field turf, he was picking up after the Devil Rays. Tonight he'll pitch against them.
Litsch's remarkable rise from bat boy to big-leaguer comes full circle when he starts against the team he worked for while attending Dixie Hollins and fantasizing about bigger things.
"It's a little weird," Listch said Monday. "But it's fun."
The Pinellas Park Little League legend (46-for-46 as an 8-year-old) relished being around players and coaches as a community relations intern in 2000 and bat boy in 2001-02. He'd take in as much knowledge as he could and occasionally toss out a dream, such as sneaking out early to throw off a mound to bullpen catcher Scott Cursi or telling Carl Crawford he'd pitch against him one day.
Crawford laughed at the memory Monday, saying, "He said he was going to be here and he ended up coming." Litsch is eager to show it: "I've just got to try to get him out, because he'll be over there (at first base) saying some stuff."
Only a handful of other Rays personnel are still around, including members of Guy Gallagher's visiting clubhouse staff that Litsch (3-4, 4.01 in eight big-league starts) once worked for and now will be tipping.
Litsch, 22, savors his chance with the contending Jays, who made him a 24th-round pick in 2004. Does he ever wonder about the Rays letting him get away? "They had their chance," Litsch said. "I guess they didn't like me or whatever, so it's no big deal to me anymore."