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However, those following the team closely could see the team’s young star power was beginning to take effect. before they got better. While suffering through a rash of injuries, the Rays lost 101 games that season—the third RAYS ON THE RISE 31 CHAPTER 5 MAKING STRIDES T he Devil Rays were in a dire place in 2007. After nine seasons in the AL, the Rays had never finished better than 70–91 and fourth in the five-team AL East. Then they began the 2007 season by losing five of their first seven games.

Kazmir struck bases. That marked his fourth out a club-record 239 batters. 50-steal season in five years. He Meanwhile, Shields became the was also the only Ray selected third pitcher in franchise his- to the AL All-Star team. tory to pitch 200 innings in one The team had also added season. And Shields, at age 25, first was the team’s oldest starting before that season. He had pitcher. played in just 18 games with baseman Carlos Pena the Red Sox in 2006. He won New Bat in Town When Carlos Pena arrived at the Devil Rays' spring-training camp in 2007, he was a man without a team.

Kevin Costner, an actor whose baseball roles included Crash Davis in Bull Durham and Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams, became a part of Rays baseball lore when he and his band, Modern West, created a song, “It’s All Up to You,” during the 2008 championship season. He was a big fan of Rays manager Joe Maddon. “[He] didn’t make it into the bigs as a player and . . I kind of dig that,” Costner said. ” “We can still feel Lou around here. ”—Rays outfielder Carl Crawford, talking about former Rays manager Lou Piniella 45 GLOSSARY contract free agent A binding agreement about, for example, years of commitment by a baseball player in exchange for a given salary.

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