ST. PETERSBURG -- The 2008 World Series run doesn't officially start until Wednesday's Game 1, but perhaps no Rays player was as excited for Tuesday's workout day as outfielder Gabe Gross.

Gross turned 29 on Tuesday, and the prospect of putting on his spikes and coming to Tropicana Field was as good of a present as any.

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"I've thought about that," Gross said. "I always felt there was always a chance I could actually play in a game on my birthday. But I'll take a workout before the World Series."

Gross has never played this late in October to even worry about his birthday, but this year he has more than just his age to toast to when he goes to dinner with his wife, Kelly.

"I'm just looking forward to still being able to try to help this ballclub any way I can," he said. "In whatever role that is for the World Series -- I'm just glad I have the opportunity."

It's no secret that Gross has struggled in his first postseason, hitting a combined .067 (1-for-16) and going hitless (0-for-10 with five strikeouts) during the seven-game American League Championship series.

So far, Rays manager Joe Maddon has stuck with Gross -- he saw action in nine of the club's 11 playoff games -- and is likely to keep Gross on the World Series roster.

That faith isn't lost on Gross, who has previously given kudos to Maddon for standing behind his players and said he was "absolutely" looking forward to starting fresh in the World Series.

Gross has come up big for the Rays this year, blasting a career-high 13 home runs and delivering three walk-off hits, which tied the club record. Of his 38 RBIs, 14 either tied the game or gave the Rays the lead.