Zaun back in the race after joining Rays
August 8, 2009
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SEATTLE -- Gregg Zaun wasn't give much acclimation time to joining a postseason race for the first time in years.

Zaun was thrown into the Tampa Bay Rays starting lineup Saturday night, following his trade from Baltimore to Tampa the day before. The Rays acquired Zaun for his veteran presence and his knowledge of the American League East as Tampa Bay tries to chase down Boston and New York in the division.

"I've spent a lot of time watching the hitters. I know most of them, I have extensive scouting reports on everybody and I have a pretty good idea on how to get people out," Zaun said before Saturday's game. "My job now is trying to learn this pitching staff as quickly as I possibly can, figure out where they are strong, what their strengths are and hopefully be able to contribute however they want me to."

That means a lot of extra work in the next few weeks for the 15-year veteran who made his professional debut in 1995, three years before the Rays came into existence.

But he welcomes the opportunity play meaningful baseball late in the season after spending most of his career well out of the playoff hunt come September. Even though Zaun owns a world championship ring from 1997 with the Florida Marlins, he hasn't seen the playoff since 1999 when he was a backup in Texas.

"The chance to win is the main thing for me. Everything else is gravy," said Zaun, who can now live in the house he owns in Palm Harbor, Fla. "I'm definitely grateful for opportunity I got in Baltimore but extremely pleased in (Orioles' president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail's) decision to let me be a part of a pennant race."

The switch-hitting Zaun batted .244 with four homers and 13 RBIs with Baltimore. Rays' manager Joe Maddon doesn't have a set plan for rotating Zaun and catcher Dioner Navarro beyond Zaun catching Saturday and Navarro on Sunday.

"Soreness may set in if we push (Zaun) too quickly, body wise, arm wise," Maddon said. "So yes, we'll be careful."

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