D-Rays keep Huff in the fold

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Aubrey Huff was rewarded Thursday
for being one of two AL players to finish among the top 10 in all
three triple crown categories when he agreed to a $14.5 million,
three-year contract to remain with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The 27-year-old infielder/outfielder hit .311 with 34 homers and
a franchise-record 107 RBIs in 2003, his first full season in the
majors. He also set club records for hits (198), doubles (47),
extra-base hits (84), total bases (353), runs scored (91),
intentional walks (17) and slugging percentage (.555).

Huff received a $500,000 signing bonus and will earn salaries of
$2.5 million in 2004, $4.75 million in 2005 and $6.75 million in
2006. The deal is the largest the Devil Rays have given to one of
their homegrown players.

General manager Chuck LaMar called it a historic day for the
franchise in that Huff's contract demonstrates a commitment by the
organization to "find and develop and keep the talented young
players that this town and this organization has waited so long

Huff and Toronto's Vernon Wells were the only AL players to
finish in the top 10 in batting average, home runs and RBIs last
season. His streak of 275 consecutive games played in the
second-longest in the majors behind Baltimore's Miguel Tejada.

Only 11 players -- Lou Gehrig (1927), Rogers Hornsby (1929),
Chuck Klein (1930, 1932), Babe Herman (1930), Hank Greenberg
(1937), Frank Robinson (1962), Don Mattingly (1985), Alex Rodriguez
(1996), Albert Belle (1998), Todd Helton (2000) and Albert Pujols
(2003) -- have matched Huff's numbers for hits, doubles, homers and
RBIs in the same season.

"Not only has he been durable, he's been productive," Devil
Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "He can hit three, four or five in
any lineup."