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McGriff just seven homers short of 500

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Fred McGriff was cut Saturday by the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays, seven home runs short of 500.

McGriff, 40, struggled after the Devil Rays brought him up from
Triple-A Durham on May 28, hitting just .181 with two homers and
seven RBI in 27 games. He hasn't homered since June 17 against
Adam Eaton at San Diego.

Tampa Bay designated him for assignment, meaning the Devil Rays
have 10 days to trade him, send him outright to the minors or place
him on waivers.

"If a major league club has interest in Fred, we'll let him
go," Tampa Bay general manager Chuck LaMar said.

McGriff is tied with Lou Gehrig for 21st place on the career
home run list. He was trying to join Ted Williams, Willie McCovey
and Eddie Murray as the only players to reach 500 homers after
turning 40.

"It's not an easy situation," manager Lou Piniella said.
"Hopefully, somebody will pick him up and give him a further
opportunity. I was hoping things would be different. But the
organization wanted to get younger, and that's really what we're
doing."

The Devil Rays called up outfielder Joey Gathright and infielder
Jorge Cantu from Durham. Utilityman Damian Rolls was optioned to
Durham.

"I'm sentimental when it comes to Fred, but there comes a time
I have to make a decision to put our best team on the field,"
LaMar said.

McGriff is tied with Lou Gehrig for 21st place on the career
home run list. He was trying to join Ted Williams, Willie McCovey
and Eddie Murray as the only players to reach 500 homers after
turning 40.

A Tampa native, McGriff played for the Devil Rays from their
inception in 1998 until a 2001 trade to the Chicago Cubs.

McGriff has 2,490 hits and 958 extra-base hits, 30th on the
career list. He has homered in a major league-record 43 ballparks.

Asked if falling short of 500 home runs would keep McGriff out
of the Hall of Fame, Piniella said it shouldn't.

"I don't see where seven home runs make a difference,"
Piniella said. "He's had a marvelous career."