NEW YORK — There's no way to limit the rampant speculation that David Price may soon be traded.
But Price said Monday that if the Rays keep winning, he thinks it decreases the possibility that he actually will be dealt.
"If we continue to play good baseball the way that we have and continue to win, I feel like we have a shot," Price said. "I think that would lessen my chances of getting traded."
Price said the speculation, intensified because of the Rays' dismal start, has not been a distraction, but he admitted he had given it a lot of thought.
"To be honest, I've prepared myself for that day for a couple years now," he said. "I didn't want it to happen, but it's something I've definitely thought about. It's been in the back of my mind if not the front of my mind at times."
Speaking more candidly than he has on the subject, Price said it is "frustrating" to be a trade candidate, but he learned from the other Rays who went through it, such as Matt Garza and James Shields.
And, he said, he understands why, as the Rays can't afford to keep most of their top players long-term.
"It's part of the business, and I completely get that," he said. "These guys are great owners. They run this to the best of their ability and they've done it extremely well. I don't think the fan base or any of the players can really say anything bad about it because they've put us in position to win whether or not they've traded guys or kept guys. Shields and Garza, the trades that they've made have made us better. At the time it doesn't seem like it, but at the end of the day it kind of does make us better."
If he were traded, Price said it would be "weird" to wear any other uniform and that he would prefer not to go to the Yankees or any other American League East team because he wouldn't want to pitch against his former mates.
"Tampa is the last team I would want to face," he said. "Facing friends is the worst." Although he allowed for one exception: "Unless it was in the World Series, then that would be cool."
Asked his gut feeling if he would still be with the Rays after the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals, Price said he thought he would: "We're playing well right now, so I do expect to be here."
Manager Joe Maddon said Price's theory was logical — and he hoped it to be accurate. "I'm looking for us to get extremely toasty right now and getting truly back into this thing," he said. "And it's a lot easier to win it with David being part of the group."
ESCOBAR TO DL: The Rays placed SS Yunel Escobar on the 15-day disabled list after Monday's game. Escobar has not played since leaving the June 24 game with a sore right shoulder.
After Escobar went through a pre-game workout Monday and the team decided he wasn't throwing well enough.
"Nothing horrid,'' Maddon said. "He threw today, his biggest concern is just to let it go. He's like a little bit concerned with that. I said listen, let's not play that game. Let's give you a couple days off because it's a long season, we need you to be well. One of his major strengths is his arm strength, and his ability to throw well. So why would you want to lost that tool by trying to rush back right now.''
Escobar will eligible to return July 10.
Infielder candidates to be called up include Vince Belnome, who is on the 40-man roster, and veterans Jayson Nix, Miek Fontenot and Wilson Betemit, known of whom are on the 40-man.
A corresponding roster move will be announced today.
HELLICKSON UPDATE: RHP Jeremy Hellickson had no problems with his elbow in throwing a 38-pitch bullpen at Tropicana Field and is set to make a rehab start Thursday, either for Class A Charlotte or Triple-A Durham. Hellickson left his Friday start after three innings with "minor discomfort."
CLAIM GAME: RHP Cory Burns was claimed on waivers from Texas and optioned to Double-A Montgomery. Burns, 26, was 2-2, 7.44 in 20 games (one start) at Triple A. In 27 games over the previous two seasons for the Padres and Rangers he was 1-1, 4.60. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Angel Sanchez, claimed June 13 from Miami, was designated for assignment.
MISCELLANY: Veteran INF Wilson Betemit, hitting .229 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs at Durham, has an out clause in his contract as of today. … 3B Evan Longoria remained third in the AL All-Star fan balloting, though his 1,457,752 votes were about half as many as leader Josh Donaldson of Oakland. … INF Cole Figueroa celebrated his 27th birthday Monday.