Notes: Rays sport throwback duds
Club dons unis of '75 Tarpons for Turn Back the Clock Night
ST. PETERSBURG -- As part of the Turn Back the Clock promotion at Tropicana Field on Saturday night, the Devil Rays wore the uniforms of the 1975 Tampa Tarpons, once the Cincinnati Reds' Class A affiliate in the Florida State League.
Shortstop Julio Lugo said he liked the red uniforms that resemble what the Reds wore in the 1970s.
"I think we should have one of them to wear when we play on Sundays," Lugo said.
Since the Rays normally wear green uniforms, accessorizing was a problem for some. Most players opted to wear black shoes, while others, like Carl Crawford, had options.
"I'm going with the black and red ones, man," Crawford said. "I like those a little better."
Crawford was told Tarpons was one of the names mentioned as an option if the team decides to change from Devil Rays.
"They're trying to give us the Tarpons?" Crawford said. "Man, I don't know, all of these sea names. Let's get some real animal names, you know. Something aggressive with fighting in it, you know."
While the uniform was new to most of the players, third-base coach Tom Foley and hitting coach Steve Henderson were familiar with them since each played for the Tarpons en route to the Major Leagues.
"Wool socks, black shoes," said Foley when asked if he remembered wearing the uniform. "I played for them in 1979, and it was hot. I don't remember a lot about that season except we were in a playoff with the [Fort Lauderdale] Yankees, and I can remember Cal Ripken was [in the FSL] for half a season, then he left."
Foley recalled that Mike Compton was the Tarpons' manager.
"Real good guy," Foley said. "What I remember about that was there was only one guy. No pitching coach, no hitting coach, just a manager and the trainer. You put a player in as the first-base coach."
Henderson, who played for the 1976 Tarpons, fondly remembered Al Lopez Field, which was located in Tampa across Dale Mabry Highway from where the Yankees now conduct Spring Training at Legends Field.
"It was a nice ballpark," Henderson said. "That was the first time I went to big-league camp at Al Lopez Field.
"The only thing I remember is we won our division and lost to the [St. Petersburg] Cardinals with [former Major League shortstop Gary] Templeton and all those guys."
Foley examined his uniform and reported it looked like the original.
"Pullover shirts instead of buttons," Foley said.
So why didn't Foley just wear the old one?
"Even if I had it, I couldn't fit in it," he said.
Walker on the mend: Rays closer Tyler Walker threw for the first time Friday, tossing 30 to 35 pitches with team trainer Ron Porterfield, an experience he likened to riding a bike.
"I've thrown a million of [tosses]," Walker said. "It wasn't bad. It felt good. Felt much better than it did the last day I played catch. I feel good. I'm going to go out and try to play catch again [Saturday]."
Rays manager Joe Maddon has commended the bullpen for rallying around their fallen closer, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow strain on June 14.
"I think [the bullpen has] been doing a great job," Walker said. "I told them they don't really need me down there the way they've been pitching. It's fun to watch those guys every time they go out there. ... They tell me they miss me down there. So I guess that's the most important thing, friendship-wise. That's the bullpen. That group's got to be closer than anybody."
Hollins against the Bravos: Damon Hollins confessed he felt a little bit strange playing against the Braves on Friday night. The Rays outfielder played in the Braves organization from 1992 through 2004 before coming to the Rays prior to the 2005 season. Friday night was the first time he's played against his old organization in a regular-season game.
"It was weird, man," Hollins said. "I went over there after BP just to say hi to everyone -- say hi to Bobby Cox. It was weird. They kind of raised me in the professional ranks of this game. ... They're good people, you know what I mean? I still care about them and wish them all the best, but I want to beat them today and tomorrow."
Minor matters: Newly acquired left-hander J.P. Howell -- acquired from Kansas City for Joey Gathright and Fernando Cortez -- picked up the loss in his Durham debut Thursday night allowing one run on three hits in five innings. Of his 57 pitches, 40 were strikes. ... The Bulls lost their third straight Friday night and right-hander Doug Waechter picked up the loss; he is now 1-2 in Durham. ... No. 1 pick Evan Longoria is hitting .438 in 16 at-bats for the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Up next: The Rays and Braves will finish out their three-game series with a 1:15 p.m. ET contest Sunday at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Mark Hendrickson will start for the Rays and will be opposed by fellow southpaw Chuck James.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.