Allow me to introduce you all to Adam Sanford. He's been diligently profiling some former Rays in the FanPost section of the page over the last few weeks, and the work has been excellent. I hope you all have been reading and enjoying a look backward, as I have. Accordingly, we've invited him to join the masthead as a continued window into the past. To start, in case you missed any of his content from the past month, here's a collection of all the players he's profiled to date. Join me in welcoming Adam! - DR
One of the few high points in Abernathy's career were the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia where he played for Team USA. During the 9 Olympic games, Abernathy recorded the most at bats and hit .385 to help Team USA win the gold.
Abernathy finished the season with AAA Durham and at the beginning for the 2001 season, he was ranked 6th in the Devil Rays system behind; 1. Josh Hamilton, 2. Jason Standridge, 3. Carl Crawford, 4. Aubrey Huff, and 5. Jesus Colome.
In the Summer of 1999, Danys Baez was one of Cuba's premier talents. He was a star pitcher for the Cuba National Team and he was playing in the Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, but he desperately wanted to defect from Cuba. The games were coming to an end and the championship game would be between Cuba and the United States. The Cuban team was stationed at a hotel, protected by armed guard and when any player left the hotel, they had to be escorted.
As Baez's teammates were preparing to head to the stadium, Baez darted out of the hotel in a car that had been waiting for him. Cuba won the game and the team was heading home, but Baez was hiding in the bathrooms of hotels and hiding under a cover in a car for 10 days. Both Canadian and Cuban officials were searching for him and Baez wouldn't be safe until he reached Costa Rica, who were willing to harbor people defecting from Cuba.
Jorge Cantu would go on to have a great offensive season and was named the 2005 Devil Rays' Most Valuable Player . He hit 28 HR, 19 of which were as a 2nd baseman, That shattered the previous team record of 5 held by Marlon Anderson, and Cantu also set a new franchise record with 117 RBI. Cantu also set a team record for multi-homer games with 4. The 23-year old's and Devil Rays' future looked promising.
On November 18th, 1997, the Cardinals chose to not protect Difelice for the Expansion Draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were allowed to draft players from each team, and with their 10th pick, the Devil Rays selected Mike Difelice. The Devil Rays had traded their 12th pick, Andy Sheets, and their 15th pick, Brian Boehringer to the San Diego Padres in exchange for their catcher, John Flaherty. So Difelice's role with his new team would be to back up Flaherty.
Prior to the 1999 season, Eiland appeared in Kevin Costner's 3rd movie about baseball, For Love of the Game. Eiland could be seen as one of the relievers in the Tigers' Bullpen. He also was Costner's body double while he was pitching.
Eiland started the 1999 season in Durham and made 10 starts before being called up for good that year. He was first used out of the bullpen, then switched back into a starting role, than switched again, than once more. At the end of the year, he had appeared in 21 games and started 15 of them. He had 80.1 IP and a 5.60 ERA with a record of 4-8.
Heading into the 2002 trade deadline, Fossum's was considered untouchable by the Red Sox. He was a cost-controlled, possibly elite arm and they him until 2007 that would also allow them to afford their other top arms, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe. At one point, Martinez even thought that Fossum would become a better pitcher than he was.
Many times Fossum was a deal breaker in deals, including a trade for the Atlanta Braves' Kevin Millwood and also a deal during the 2002-2003 off season that would have sent Fossum and 1B, Shea Hillenbrand to the Montreal Expos for 20 game winner, Bartolo Colon.
Up next: Geremi Gonzalez!