10/29/2003 1:08 PM ET
Notes: Rays pick up Lugo's option
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
Julio Lugo made 16 errors in his first 83 games with the Rays but had only one in his last 34. (Ed Betz/AP)
ST. PETERSBURG -- As expected, the Devil Rays picked up the $1.75 million, one-year option on shortstop Julio Lugo's contract.
Lugo, who came to the Rays as a free agent from the Astros, had a very strong all-around finish to the 2003 season, playing very good defense and breaking team records for home runs and RBIs by a shortstop.
"Julio did a fine job for us in 2003," said Chuck LaMar, the Rays' senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager. "He provided us with more run production than we've had from that position in the past and his defense improved as the season wore on. We're glad to have him returning as a middle infielder next season."
Lugo, 27, joined the team in Baltimore on May 16 and ended up hitting .275 with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs. His homer and RBI totals were career highs. Lugo started 114 of 118 games with the Rays and hit 12 home runs and drove in 37 runs after the All-Star break.
Julio Lugo / SS
Devil Rays site
Lugo hit 10 homers in his last 38 games and in September hit .313 (30-96) with five home runs and 13 RBIs. He also led the club with eight bunt singles and seven sacrifice bunts.
Combined with the production of Rey Ordoñez before he had season-ending knee surgery, Rays shortstops posted 19 home runs, 78 RBIs and a .280 batting average. The only other Major League teams with better numbers from that position were the Red Sox (.300, 29 HR, 108 RBIs) and the Rangers (.294, 46 HR, 117 RBIs).
Lugo made 16 errors in his first 83 games with the Rays but had only one in his last 34.
Foley in Baltimore: Third base coach Tom Foley, who has been with the team since the start of the franchise, interviewed for the Orioles manager job on Wednesday. He was the sixth person the Orioles brought in. Foley also interviewed for the Rays manager position after the 2002 season before Lou Piniella was hired.
"I think I talked more (this year),'' Foley said afterward. "But other than that, there weren't so many direct questions. (The Orioles) gave me a chance to get started and let me talk and give my feelings on what I think I would do in certain situations.
"For the most part things were the same, trying to feel how I would be in certain situations. Do you prepare yourself better? I would hope so. But it's just like when you step up to the plate every year, your first at-bat, you're shaking. It doesn't go away.''
Notes: Right-hander Seth McClung has begun throwing again, first with a tennis ball and then a baseball. McClung, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in June, has been working out five times a week, including three days with Rays trainer Ken Crenshaw, and at the minor league complex. McClung has been running to lose weight and doing curls and shoulder exercises to improve arm strength, as prescribed by Dr. Lewis Yocum. McClung is projected to return to action in the middle of next season, at first from the bullpen. ... The Rays signed former Mariners pitcher Ken Cloude, 28, to a minor league contract. The right-hander pitched in a total of 79 games for Piniella with Seattle from 1997-99. ... Former Rays minor league pitcher Todd Williams, who is from Land O' Lakes, Fla., made the roster of Team USA, which currently is trying to qualify for the 2004 Olympics. Williams pitched for Triple-A Durham in 2003 but recently became a free agent.
We either make ourselves happy or miserable.
The amount of work is the same.