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Rays notes: Damon closes in on Splendid Splinter

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Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 02:33 PM

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ST. PETERSBURG -

DH Johnny Damon moved one hit shy Tuesday night of catching Ted Williams for 71st on the all-time hits list.

The Splendid Splinter finished his career with 2,654 hits, a total that would have been greater had he not missed nearly five seasons due to World War II and the Korean War, where he served as a Marine pilot.

Damon's fourth-inning homer and eighth-inning double gave him 2,653 career hits.

"It seems whoever I pass right now, it's somebody very good," Damon said before the game. "I'm just proud of the fact that I've been able to have this long of a career, but Ted Williams is sentimental to me, because I was with the Red Sox when he passed (2002), and we honored him on the field, and at the time my son was, I believe 3, and he was able to be on the field with me wearing a Ted Williams jersey."

Damon is also five doubles shy of tying Babe Ruth's career total of 506, good for 47th on the all-time list.

"The thing with Babe, he just hit the ball a little too far to have all those doubles," Damon said.

Catching Williams, Damon said, would be the bigger thrill.

"He goes down as the greatest hitter of all-time," Damon said. "Obviously, probably would have gotten more hits if he didn't walk as much, if he wasn't as good, you know, and also serving our country like he did. That's probably going to be the most special one out of this. Obviously every hit you get and whoever you tie or pass is special, but I think Ted Williams is tops for me."

Johnny Damon red

Damon unveiled the Johnny Damon's 2007 Napa Valley red wine that will be sold at the July 16 "Uncork for a Cause" charity event at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg with the proceeds to benefit the families of St. Petersburg police officers Thomas Baitinger, Jeffrey Yaslowitz and David Crawford, who were killed this year in the line of duty.

Admission is $60. For more information on the event, go to

Uncorkforacause.com.

Speaking of causes

On Tuesday, CF B.J. Upton and RF Matt Joyce kicked off the Rays Dugout Club, visiting five recreation centers in south St. Petersburg. LHP David Price will visit two more on Friday.

LHP J.P. Howell and RHP Adam Russell participated Tuesday in the Sweetbay Supermarket "Strikeout Hunger" program, where they signed autographs in exchange for food donations to the Feeding America of Tampa Bay's Pinellas "Kids Café" program.

Bike safety

Manager Joe Maddon was filming a bicycle safety public service announcement Tuesday morning along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa when a cyclist crashed his bike while trying to avoid the film crew.

"The timing of it was absolutely incredible," Maddon said.

When asked if he thought he was the subject of a prank, Maddon said, "no."

"We were taking up a lot of the sidewalk, which was our fault, but this guy tries to go around and he just hits the curb, boom, he goes down," Maddon said. "Wrong way into traffic, no helmet, chain comes off. He's embarrassed. He's trying to get away, can't because the chain is broke. He's got to put the chain back on."

Noteworthy

The fourth annual "Rays on the Runway" fashion show to benefit the Children's Dream Fund is tonight at the Tampa Museum of Art. The event is sold out. … Monday marked a club-record third straight game in which the Rays had five doubles. The Rays are the 17th team since 1900 to manage that feat. … UTL Ben Zobrist, with 10 doubles in his past 17 games, leads the majors with 27 two-base hits.

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