McGriff just seven homers short of 500

Updated: July 17, 2004, 10:03 PM ET
Associated Press

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

Fred McGriff
McGriff

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."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press