Frank Thomas hoping for Hall of Fame enshrinement next year

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In town for SoxFest on Saturday, Frank Thomas was his typical direct self in expressing his desire to enter Cooperstown next winter and in labeling the numbers of steroid users “fake.”

CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes has the story, which includes a video interview.

Thomas has a very clear sense of his place in history, and he knows he ranks among the elite. And while bitter might not be the right word, he still takes issue over losing the 2000 AL MVP award to a player in Jason Giambi who later admitted to cheating.

“I spent my whole career working my butt off and hopefully I get what I deserve,” Thomas said. “Of course I would be disappointed [if unelected]. I’m not going to lie to you. Of course I will. Like I said, I think my resume speaks for itself. Losing a third MVP to a guy who admitted he was PED, I think that would have put me at another level that only a couple of guys have enjoyed ever in this game. The 12-year-run I had was incredible, very historical. So, I think I’ve done enough to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

Thomas is right about that. He’s also right about the MVP thing. The only player ever to win more than three is Barry Bonds, one of those with “fake” numbers, according to Thomas. Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Joe DiMaggio, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Schmidt all won three apiece.

Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine will join Thomas on the ballot for the first time next year. Thomas indicated that he’d like to see those two and Craig Biggio share the stage with him at induction.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.