Sternberg: October dreaming
The optimism flowing through the Rays clubhouse has reached principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who admitted he has to temper some of it, but still said Tuesday during his first visit to camp he thought the team could be good enough to make the playoffs.
"I would think if everybody produces to the best of their abilities, we could be - could be - talking about October,'' Sternberg said. "If guys don't really get it done and get hurt or what not, we're not going to be so doing well.''
Sternberg declined to make a specific prediction or projection on the number of wins, but said he would continue to have a goal of 50 home wins. And, perhaps more realistically, he shared this vision:
"What I would love to have happen, you don't know October is going to look like, but you'd like to get well into the summer, into August and see that the guys are performing real well and that you're withing at least shouting distance and that you're making some noise, making some trouble. If we can stay out of a bad stretch like we did last year, we had a real rough spot in July, I think that's very possible.''
Other tidbits from a nearly half-hour chat with area reporters:
* He said there would be flexibility during the season to further raise the payroll that had already been increased more than 70 percent to around $42-million.
* That while there is a relationship between the number of games the team wins and the number of votes cast for the team's new stadium proposal, the team was not focusing on the connection. "I know it's there, but what I try to do and what I've instilled in the organization ... is to remove as many variables as I can from any equation. So I said to them immediately is take the stadium out of it,'' he said.
* Asked about potentially signing Barry Bonds, Sternberg cited team policy to not discuss individual players but certainly sounded as if he was open to it, saying "payroll wouldn't be an issue" and in discussing how the Rays have dealt with controversial players in the past, said: "When there's opportunity, nothing frightens me, and you deal with it as comes around.''