Big League Stew - MLB

The unexpected retirement of Manny Ramirez not only left a gaping hole in the Tampa Bay Rays lineup, it also created a marketing crisis.

What the heck was the team supposed to do with, presumably, thousands of Manny Ramirez(notes) bobblehead dolls, set for a May 29 giveaway at Tropicana Field?

No self-respecting Tampa Bay fan would want a Manny doll, not after Ramirez's five-game Rays career ended with a looming punishment for a drug test violation.

Not to worry: Sam Fuld(notes) has come to the rescue.


Fuld, a 29-year-old career minor leaguer who has taken advantage of Ramirez's absence with a hot start of legendary proportions. He also is the inspiration for a replacement giveaway. The team will hand out 10,000 Super Sam Hero Capes to kids 14 and under.

That's some quick thinking, marketing department. The cape itself looks kind of like a chamois that fell off a truck and was quickly re-purposed, but whatever works.

Fuld, a Type-1 diabetic who came up in the Cubs system but never got a chance to play every day for the major league team, has earned the hype he's generated so far.

After coming over in the Matt Garza(notes) trade, Fuld is batting .313/.371/.594 with six extra-base hits, six stolen bases (which leads the AL) and many diving catches in the outfield. He's producing more than the Rays could have hoped Manny ever would have. He's been a bright spot in an otherwise ugly season so far for Tampa Bay.

Fuld is excited, too, because he never even rated a giveaway in the minors. With the Cubs organization, Fuld told he almost appeared on a T-shirt once.

"I was maybe close to getting an Iowa Cub T-shirt giveaway, but I didn't even make the cut there," said Fuld, who came to the Rays in a trade that sent Matt Garza to the Cubs.

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