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TV man Staats a finalist for Hall of Fame Frick award

Longtime Rays TV man Dewayne Staats is one of eight finalists for the Baseball Hall of Fame Frick award, given for broadcasting excellence.

Other nominees are 2017 Frick Award are: Gary Cohen, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Bill King, Mike Krukow and Ned Martin.

The electee, chosen by a panel of past winners and historians, will be announced Dec. 7.

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Ben Zobrist, Cubs mates Baez and Russell going to Disney World

As if winning the World Series championship wasn't enough fun, Series MVP Ben Zobrist and Cubs teammates Javier Baez and Addison Russell are going to Disney World on Saturday.

The three Cubs stars will take part in the parade through the Magic Kingdom starting at 4:30 on Main Street.

The parade, which also features Disney characters, is a tradition to honor sports champions, but the last Series winners to take part were the 2004 Red Sox.

Zobrist, the former Rays star, also will appear Monday on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler.
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Rays' Kiermaier on ice with the Lightning

Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and pitcher Jake Odorizzi skated with several of the Lightning after Friday’s practice at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

ROGER MOONEY | Times

Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and pitcher Jake Odorizzi skated with several of the Lightning after Friday’s practice at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Not many people can chase a baseball like Kevin Kiermaier. A hockey puck? That's a different story.

The Rays center fielder and pitcher Jake Odorizzi skated with several of the Lightning after Friday’s practice at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

Odorizzi skated with the team last season.

Kiermaier said he hadn’t been on ice skates since he was 8.

“Oh my gosh. It is not easy,” Kiermaier said after the session.

The Gold Glove center fielder, who glides across the outfield, struggled on the unfamiliar surface, taking choppy steps across the ice.

“Needs some work,” Lightning center Steven Stamlos said. “He’s great on the field with the shoes on, but with skates, not so much.”

Kiermaier, a native of Fort Wayne, IN, attended his first Lightning game two years ago and fell in love with the sport.

Stamkos and some of his teammates have taken batting practice at the Trop before Rays games. The Lightning have extended the invite to the Rays, with Odorizzi and former Rays pitcher Matt Moore skating last season.

Kiermaier finally gave it a try Friday. He left with an even greater respect for hockey players.

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Rays restructure: Neander (now GM) and Bloom promoted; Silverman remains president

From left, Matt Silverman, Kevin Cash, Erik Neander, and Chaim Bloom talk during spring training camp in March in Port Charlotte.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

From left, Matt Silverman, Kevin Cash, Erik Neander, and Chaim Bloom talk during spring training camp in March in Port Charlotte.

The Rays have announced a restructuring of their front office in which baseball operations president Matt Silverman remains in place, but Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom will have expanded duties and "directly oversee all functions within baseball operations,'' with Neander getting the title of GM.

Silverman said the "evolution" had been expected since he moved from his team president's role to take over baseball operations following the October 2014 departure of Andrew Friedman, with Bloom and Neander as his top deputies.

"My role has been to oversee baseball operations and the wide scope of activities we engage in,'' Silverman told the Tampa Bay Times. "Going forward, the charge is the same with my focus shifting away from daily management and more towards our longer term vision and priorities. When it comes to key decisions, we will all work closely together."

Neander, 33, has worked in the Rays baseball operations department for 10 seasons, the last two as a vice president after starting as an intern in January 2007. …

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Rays re-sign LHP Dana Eveland, 2 others to minor-league deals

The Rays re-signed LHP Dana Eveland to a minor-league deal with an inviation to spring training.

Eveland, 33, pitched in 33 games for the Rays over three stints last season, compiling a 9.00 ERA.

RHP Neil Wagner, who spent last year with Class A Charlotte and Triple-A Durham in working his way back from Tommy John surgery, was also re-signed to a minor-league deal and will be invited to spring training.

Also re-signed to a minor-league deal was RHP Fernando Baez, who was 3-1, 3.21 at Class A Bowling Green last season.

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Brewers OF Keon Broxton arrested on trespass charge in Tampa

Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton was arrested in Tampa early Friday morning and arrested on a misdemeanor trespass charge after police said he refused to leave an area after a fight.

Broxton, 26, was arrested at 3:26 a.m. Friday by Tampa Police who were dispersing a crowd after a fight in the South Howard area. He was booked at 5 a.m. and remained in jail at 8 a.m., held on $500 bond.

Police were responding to a Florida Highway Patrol request for backup due to an "active fight" near Howard Avenue and Platt Street in Tampa. According to the arrest report, Broxton was "extremely intoxicated" and had "visible injuries to his face but declined medical attention." When police asked several people to leave an area of closed businesses, the report states that Broxton "became upset and began yelling 'Y'all ain't s--- behind your badges." He was again warned that he was loitering and was "grabbed by one of his friends to remove him from the area." …

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Communications VP Rick Vaughn leaves Rays after 20 years

Communications VP Rick Vaughn, one of the team's longest serving employees, has resigned from his post with the Rays to pursue othjer opportunities. (Times files, 2005)

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Communications VP Rick Vaughn, one of the team's longest serving employees, has resigned from his post with the Rays to pursue othjer opportunities. (Times files, 2005)

Communications VP Rick Vaughn, one of the team's longest serving employees, has resigned from his post with the Rays to pursue othjer opportunities.

Vaughn had been with the team since April 1996, two years before it began play, and was a key part in forming the foundation of the franchise.

"I am grateful to Vince Naimoli for bringing me to the Tampa Bay area in 1996 and to Stu Sternberg and Matt Silverman for allowing me to experience a World Series,'' Vaughn said. "But after 20 years, I am ready to hopefully start a fresh set of innings elsewhere."

A tireless worker, Vaughn also was active in a number of charitable organizations and causes throughout the Tampa Bay area.

He worked previously for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Redskins.

Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said in a brief statement:

"Rick Vaughn has resigned from the Tampa Bay Rays. The organization is grateful for his many years of service and wishes him well.''

 

 

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Julianna Zobrist nearly missed Ben's World Series-winning moment

World Series MVP Ben Zobrist celebrates with his wife Julianna Zobrist after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

Getty

World Series MVP Ben Zobrist celebrates with his wife Julianna Zobrist after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

Minutes before the greatest moment of her husband Ben's career, the RBI double that would lead the the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years and him the MVP award, Julianna Zobrist was standing in the tunnel under the Progressive Field stands barefoot holding their 1-year-old daughter.

Told the rain delay that had Wednesday's thrilling World Series Game 7 on hold between the ninth and 10th innings, would last at least 30 minutes,  she had taken Blaise, plus older siblings Zion and Kruse, downstairs where it was dry.

PHOTO GALLERY: For Chicago Cubs and their fans, a celebration 108 years in the making …

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Notes, quotes and early thoughts on World Series Game 7

Chicago Cubs fans celebrate outside Wrigley Field in Chicago after the Cubs' 9-3 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the baseball World Series in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Cubs are scheduled to face the Indians in the decisive Game 7 Wednesday.

Charles Rex Arbogast | Associated Press

Chicago Cubs fans celebrate outside Wrigley Field in Chicago after the Cubs' 9-3 win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 6 of the baseball World Series in Cleveland on Tuesday. The Cubs are scheduled to face the Indians in the decisive Game 7 Wednesday.

Some notes, quotes and early thoughts on Wednesday's seventh and final game of the World Series between the Cubs and the Indians.

• This is the 38th time a best-of-seven Series is extended to the final game, with the home team winning only 18 of the first 37, though nine of the last 10. (The exception was the most recent, the Giants beating the Royals in 2014.)

• The Cubs are looking to be the first team to come back and win a Series after trailing 3-1 since the 1985 Royals (over the Cardinals), and the first to do so with the final games on the road since the 1979 Pirates (over the Orioles).

• This will be the second time cubs manager Joe Maddon and Indians manager Terry Francona have squared off in a Game 7. The stakes weren't quite as high, but Maddon's Rays beat Francona's Red Sox to win the AL pennant.

• Indians RHP Corey Kluber, the quiet Stetson product, will be the first pitcher to make three starts in a Series since Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals in 2011 and the seventh overall in the last 30 years. …

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Maddon: Rays could've had Yankees-like dynasty if kept together

Former manager Joe Maddon said the Rays could have gone on a dynastic run similar to late-90s Yankees had the team not been broken up for financial reasons.

In talking about the promising future prospects of his current Cubs team before Game 6 of the World Series on Tuesday, Maddon said the core of the Rays team that made it to the 2008 Series, losing to Philadelphia, was good enough to compete for several championships.

"I thought it could have rivaled the Yankees' run with that kind of group that had come up in the mid-90's or late 90's,'' Maddon said of the New York team that won four championships in a five-year period, and played for two others.

As the Rays went forward from 2008, they made the playoffs three more times in the next five years, but eventually traded key players such as James Shields, Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and David Price, and let others leave via free agency including Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena. They also lost Maddon when he opted out of the final year of his contract following the 2014 season and weren't able to come to terms on a new deal, and he quickly signed a five-year, $25-million contract with the Cubs. …

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