Sternberg concerned, but believes Rays can bounce back
Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg says they always try to temper expectations.
But Sternberg admits he's "concerned" that his team - considered pre-season World Series contenders - has the worst record (23-33) in the American League as the calendar flips to June, already 10 games out of first-place in the AL East.
"Clearly we thought we'd be positioned better at this point," Sternberg said.
But Sternberg, in town for part of the Red Sox series, said he's still confident the Rays can rebound and get back into the race. With the franchise-record payroll around $80 million, Sternberg knows they have the pieces, but said "there's room for most everyone of our players to be performing a bit better." The effort and cohesion, he says, are there.
"We’ve dug ourselves out of holes in the past but that doesn’t have a lot of bearing on where we are right now," Sternberg said. "But we know it can be done and I feel very confident in the plan we put together, and the players we have on the team, so I know it’s well within our skill set to be able to do it."
Though the Rays have been hit by injuries, including LHP Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery) and RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow surgery), along with three put on the DL this week, he didn't use that as an excuse, saying they've overcome more injuries before.
When it comes to a potential fire sale at the trade deadline if this trend continues, Sternberg said it was too early to speculate, pointing out the team held steady during a difficult stretch in 2011 and ended up making the playoffs on Game 162.
"You look at what we've done, the way we handled it, you go back to (2011) and all hope was lost," Sternberg said. "I don't know how many games we were out at the trading deadline, but probably close to double digits. And we were not playing inspired and people thought, 'Are they going to trade?' And the team stayed together and you can't bank on copying the run that team had, but we're still two months away from that point.
"Clearly there's a point, the team is 17 games out in the middle of July. But by the same token, if you think you're in striking distance and more importantly if you have confidence in the guys who are here, that they have a good stretch of baseball in tehm, things in a week or two and you look back and can be in a different position."
When it comes to the stadium situation, Sternberg said he remains optimistic, but has no tangible new developments or scheduled meetings with St. Pete major Kriseman, other than they plan to keep in touch.