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06/02/09 12:45 PM ET

Bartlett collected Ripken, Boggs, Gwynn

Rays shortstop emulates stars of '80s and '90s

Jason Bartlett is picking up in 2009 where he left off last season when he was one of the key players in the Rays' unlikely claim of the American League pennant. His baseball cards are even becoming sought after by collectors similar to the way he used to seek cards of Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr.

The Rays acquired Bartlett in an offseason trade with the Twins before the '08 season. In '08, Bartlett led all AL shortstops in stolen bases with 20 and ranked fourth among his peers in batting with a .286 average. From Aug. 2 through the season's end, Bartlett hit .353 in 35 games.

"It's been a great ride, one I hope continues," Bartlett said. "I'm very lucky. I'm with a solid organization, which does things right. I'm very, very excited about this season and the future."

Bartlett, who was batting .373 with seven home runs and 30 RBIs last week when he went on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, recently took some time to discuss collecting cards:

MLBPLAYERS.com: Who were your favorite players to collect?

Bartlett: I liked Cal Ripken Jr., Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs, among others. These players were solid in the field and at the plate. I liked their professional approach to the game, and I've tried to emulate that approach. I treat every game the same way and work as hard as I can to be the best possible player I can.

MLBPLAYERS.com: When did you first appear on a card?

Bartlett: It was a Minor League card, I'm pretty sure. There were several of them. To see me smiling on a card was something. It was an accomplishment. It wasn't the greatest photo, but it was me. I was proud. So was my family.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you have a favorite MLB card?

Bartlett: The way I look at it is like this: They're all good. Being on a Major League card is something not many people can say they accomplished. It's hard to pick out one over another. I'm happy with all of them.

MLBPLAYERS.com: Do you still have your collection from your childhood?

Bartlett: I have a lot of them, but it's been awhile since I've seen them. I have so much responsibility these days. I should get a hold of them and organize them. I had so much fun as a kid collecting cards.

MLBPLAYERS.com: What's it like to sign autographs for kids?

Bartlett: When they have any of my cards, that's awesome. I remember being a kid and asking players for their autograph. Now, the tables are turned, and it's such a great feeling. To show our child my cards will be exciting. To have had this opportunity to play and to sign cards for excited kids is pretty much a dream.

-- Red Line Editorial

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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