Devil Rays release Greg Vaughn

March 22, 2003 at 4:56 PM
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 22 (UPI) -- New Tampa Bay Devil Manager Lou Piniella sent his club a clear message Saturday as underachieving outfielder-designated hitter Greg Vaughn was released.

The 37-year-old Vaughn is slated to make $9.25 million this season, a figure that the Devil Rays almost assuredly will have to pay in its entirety. Tampa Bay will put Vaughn on waivers Monday and teams will have 72 hours to claim him. If he goes unclaimed, the Devil Rays will be responsible for his contract.

"I know I can play," Vaughn said. "I'll probably clear waivers because it won't cost anybody anything, I'll be a minimum salary guy. I've already been in touch with my agent and we expect there to be several opportunities."

Piniella has vowed to not to let Tampa Bay, which is coming off a season in which it lost 106 times, get complacent. With talented young outfielders like Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli on the verge of making an impact, Piniella made a definitive statement with the release of Vaughn.

One of the premier sluggers in the 1990s, Vaughn hit just .163 with eight homers and 29 RBI in 2002. He was limited to 251 at bats by a right shoulder injury that did not require surgery but cost him the final three months of the season.

He was off to a slow start this spring, batting .217 with a homer and four RBI in 46 at bats.

Vaughn is a career .242 hitter with 352 home runs and 1,067 RBI. He had three 40-homer seasons and drove in more than 115 runs three times.

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