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Rays History

Remembering Julio Lugo’s time with the Tampa Bay Rays

Jameus Mooney
Tampa Bay's Julio Lugo goes after this ground ball during Friday night's action against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on July 7, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay's Julio Lugo goes after this ground ball during Friday night's action against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on July 7, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former major league shortstop Julio Lugo suddenly passed away on Nov. 15 at the age of 45, just a day shy of his 46th birthday. ESPN’s Enrique Rojas is reported that Lugo suffered a heart attack.

Lugo is perhaps best known for his time in Boston where he won a World Series in 2007, but he played for the Tampa Bay Rays for four seasons after being released by the Houston Astros. From 2004-2006, he played 505 games for the Rays, primarily at shortstop, where he appeared at 489 times.

Lugo highlighted the Rays in late 2003, going on a 15 home run tear for the Devil Rays in a time where the fans at Tropicana Field didn’t have much to cheer for. Lugo’s 2003 was capped off in a four-game series at the Toronto SkyDome where he hit four home runs in as many games off of the Blue Jays pitching.

While Lugo’s bat didn’t quite continue the pop flashed in 2003, his base running was among the game’s elite going forward. In 2004 and 2005, Lugo had a 5.6 and 5.9 BsR in each respective season by FanGraphs metrics, stealing sixty bases in that span.

Julio Lugo once hit 2 home runs in the same inning for the Rays

Lugo’s best game as a Ray came against the Baltimore Orioles in July of 2006 when he hit two home runs in a single inning, something that only 56 players in MLB history have accomplished. Lugo hit a solo home run to the left field porch off of Rodrigo Lopez and a two-run home run to left-center off of Kurt Birkins.

The then Devil Rays ended up winning the ballgame 13-12 as Lugo and Russell Branyan each totaled eight bases on the night. Nineteen of the 25 combined runs scored came from the 5th-7th innings, with ten of the Rays runs and both of Lugo’s homers happening in the fifth.

As such is life while donning the Rays uniform, the Devil Rays traded Lugo to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Joel Guzman just nine days later.

This ended Lugo’s time with the team. Over his career, Lugo spent time in Houston, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Boston, St. Louis, Baltimore and Atlanta. Lugo hit 80 home runs in the Majors, posted a .716 OPS and accumulated 13.5 WAR over 12 seasons. He is survived by his wife Surki and four children.

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