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Sam Fuld Rises In The Shadow Of Manny Ramirez

The Rays season could hardly have started on harsher terms. After getting swept in their home opener, the team found out -- practically en route to their first road series -- that their splash free agency acquisition and hopeful DH Monster, Manny Ramirez, was retiring amidst a second failed drug test.

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The Rays have a long and unpleasant history with the DH position. The team's most successful DH, Jose Conseco, is a ball-bucket of insanity. Their most expensive DH, Pat Burrell, proved incapable of handling the position while transitioning to the AL East. The team's most successful DH since Conseco -- Cliff Floyd -- was too fragile to put together a complete season there.

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However, despite the loss of Ramirez, the Rays have returned to their winning ways -- and in the most unexpected fashion. Johnny Damon has shifted to the DH position while 29-year-old Sam Fuld has taken control of left field in an awesome display of high-flying fielding heroics and impressive lumber-swinging.

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As such, the Tampa Bay Rays front office has decided to replace the Manny Ramirez bobblehead day with a Sam Fuld superhero cape giveaway -- a gesture equal measures prudent and symbolic. After the Rays were gutted by the MLB's unbalanced free agency system last year, the 2011 team will have to find heroes among commoners if they want to repeat and build upon last year's success. 111586_sam-fuld-cape_medium

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via www2.tbo.com

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.