Piniella: D-Rays should add to roster

Updated: June 24, 2004, 4:54 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Fresh off a surprising winning streak, Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella wants to see something else new and different: more payroll for more players.

"Let's just not sit on the streak," Piniella said Thursday, a day after the Devil Rays' team-record string ended at 12 games.

"We've got more than half our schedule to play yet. Now that we've gained that momentum and it's been positive for us, let's build on that. Let's not just sit back," he said.

The Devil Rays have a payroll of $23 million -- the lowest in the majors -- and Piniella has said that they need to increase it to compete in the AL East.

"Instead of trading our better players for the future, let's start looking at other teams' better players for our future," he said. "And I'm talking within a salary framework that works for us, too. I'm not talking about a Alex Rodriguez-type deal."

The streak ended Wednesday night with a 2-1, 10-inning loss in Toronto.

It was the longest winning streak in the major leagues since Arizona won 12 straight from June 18 to 30 last season.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Barry will hold a "Welcome Home Rally" for the team when they return to Tampa Bay on Friday.

Piniella thinks acquiring players is the best way to keep people excited.

"Instead of looking at the future, look at the immediate future. We can really keep them excited. We got momentum from this. Let's not lose it. Let's build on it," he said.

"This season will be defined by how we play over the last three months of the year. That's why I'm saying if we can improve our baseball team, I would encourage us to do so."

Piniella says they need to improve in a number of areas, most notably starting pitching.

Piniella signed a four-year, $13 million contract with his hometown Devil Rays before last season. They lost 99 games last year, and they're attempting to escape a last-place finish in the AL East for the first time in franchise history.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press