KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rays continue to say there is nothing but the usual this-time-of-year trade rumors with CF B.J. Upton. Several national media types are saying that Upton definitely will be dealt by Sunday's deadline for nonwaiver deals.
And Upton doesn't know what to say anymore, expect to keep up the daily joking with RHP James Shields that they've both made it through another day as Rays.
"It's been (like this) the last two years so I guess there's nothing I can do about it," Upton said. "If that's what they want to do, that's up to them. It's totally out of my hands."
The Indians emerged Saturday as another team possibly interested, given the injury absence of CF Grady Sizemore. The Giants, Brewers and Braves are among others, and the Nationals have long been interested.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday's broadcast, "Upton will be traded, trust me on that." And ESPN's Buster Olney wrote on Twitter, "yes, it does look like Upton will be dealt," and that the number of teams interested had increased, perhaps in price comparison to the Mets' Carlos Beltran and Astros' Hunter Pence.
Rays manager Joe Maddon reiterated that Friday's callup of top OF prospect Desmond Jennings is not related to Upton's situation, adding that the move was on track to happen before or during the All-Star break had Jennings not injured a finger.
And Maddon insisted that the frenzy he created by taking Upton out in the eighth inning Friday, after word had gotten out that Jennings was on the move from Triple-A Durham, was totally unintentional. Actually, Maddon said it was prompted by Johnny Damon offering to play the outfield for the final inning, and Maddon picking Upton to get the rest.
Maddon said the trade rumors swirling around Upton are a product of the calendar, and the standings, with Rays on the fringe of the playoff race.
"It is what it is — that's going to be out there," Maddon said. "It happens on every team. There's nothing I can really say to ameliorate it or make him feel any better. It's just how this thing works this time of the year. There's a lot of guys. (Executive VP Andrew Friedman) is always looking to make us better, there's always different guys' names involved."
REID REPORT: SS Reid Brignac, sent to Triple A on Friday after hitting .193 in 68 games, will be on a specific program to improve his overall approach at the plate — "working a more consistent major-league-quality at-bat," Maddon said — as well as his baserunning. To be addressed will be bunting, situational hitting, improving the path of his swing and increasing walks and on-base percentage. Maddon said there was no commitment made to bring Brignac back up during September.
STANDING TALL: RHP Jeff Niemann had another solid start, and nothing to show for it, allowing two earned runs over six innings before leaving "gassed.'' Niemann is 3-0, 2.23 in six starts since coming off the disabled list.
HOT STUFF: Rookie RHP Alex Cobb began preparing Tuesday for today's start in the midday sun and heat, drinking 4-5 bottles of water daily along with electrolytes and a Gatorade drink designed to boost endurance. Temperatures during the game are predicted to be in the 91-94 range, with a feels-like of 99-104, though there is also a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms. … Rays TV analyst Brian Anderson had his own trick for Saturday's broadcast, wearing camouflage shorts.
MISCELLANY: With Brignac gone, 2B/RF Ben Zobrist will be prepped for potential duty at short, his original position. … The Rays hadn't lost a series to the Royals since July 2007. … With his 504th double, Damon tied new Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar for 49th place all time.