ST. LOUIS — About 10 Rays walked over to Busch Stadium on Sunday night for the rare opportunity to sit in the stands and watch a big-league game as they took in the final few innings of the Cardinals-Dodgers game.
But it was the presence of LHP David Price that created the most buzz, given the speculation that the Cardinals are among the teams most interested in trading for him.
Some fans wondered if his presence meant a deal was imminent. More logical ones saw it as an opportunity to let him know how welcome he would be.
"They were awesome," Price said. "They let us enjoy ourselves. They let us sit there. It was really cool. It was everything we had hoped for. … The people here are extremely nice."
Whether the Rays actually trade Price by the July 31 deadline — to the Cardinals, Dodgers, Mariners or someone else — is the bigger question, given their improved play over the past six weeks and move up in the standings.
Asked Tuesday if he would be surprised to be traded now, Price said yes.
"It doesn't really have to do with everything that we're doing," Price said. "I know our front-office guys are watching what's going on with the teams that are in front of us, especially Baltimore. They're on a very tough West Coast trip right now … and I think it has quite a bit to do with what we do."
LEADER OF THE PACK: 3B Evan Longoria homered in the ninth to move past Carl Crawford as the franchise's all-time RBI leader at 593. It was Longora's 12th homer of the season and first since July 4.
EIGHTH MAN UP: RHP Jake Odorizzi batted in the eighth spot, the third time manager Joe Maddon has employed that strategy. His thinking Tuesday was two-fold: that it facilitated the possibility of pinch-hitting sooner (and also potentially in tandem with C Jose Molina seventh), and that it allowed him to keep OF Kevin Kiermaier ninth, thus just ahead of leadoff man Desmond Jennings to form a somewhat dynamic duo.
Odorizzi actually came up in a key spot in the second, with runners on first and third and one out, and got down a bunt that scored the tying run.
He became the first Rays pitcher to record an RBI in first career plate appearance since Matt Moore on June 9, 2012, also on a bunt, and the first to get an RBI since Brandon Gomes on June 24, 2012, on a bases-loaded walk.
AWARD WINNER: Kiermaier was honored to be chosen the Rays winner of the Heart and Hustle Award, voted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to players who "demonstrate a passion for" and "best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game."
"It's pretty cool getting recognized for the way I play," Kiermaier said. "It's the only way I know, and you can bet I'll be playing like that as long as I'm playing the game."
PITCHING IN: Price was announced as the starter for Friday's series opener against Boston (and David Ortiz), but the Rays haven't set the rest of the rotation, with RHP Jeremy Hellickson expected to be recalled to start Saturday or Sunday.
NOT-SO-MINOR MATTER: With No. 614 on Monday, Charlie Montoyo surpassed Bill Evers as the winningest manager in Durham Bulls history. "That's pretty solid," Maddon said. "Beyond doing that, to have the stick-to-it-ive-ness to do that and approach the day with that kind of energy believing in his heart he belongs in the major leagues."
REHAB REPORT: INF Jerry Sands had season-ending surgery Tuesday to repair a torn sheath in his left wrist by Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland; his recovery time is 3-31/2 months. … INF Tim Beckham, sidelined since offseason right knee surgery, started his 20-day rehab with the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte. … OF Wil Myers (broken right wrist) has starting throwing lightly and is swinging with the Speed Hitter device, eying a mid August return. … C Ryan Hanigan (oblique) has started throwing but is not doing rotational work, which can be a 10-day milepost from returning.
MISCELLANY: Maddon's third-inning ejection was his fourth this season and 36th as a Ray. ... Maddon was thrilled to get a signed Stan Musial bat and a KMOX microphone flag from Cardinals radio man Mike Shannon. … C Jose Molina swiped his third base of the season, one off his career high, on the back end of a double steal. … The Rays are one of 15 smaller market/lower revenue teams competing today in the competitive balance lottery for one of six supplemental first- or second-round picks in the next draft.