Don't count on any help, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says

NEW YORK — The Rays were unlikely to spend any money on in-season acquisitions anyway. The cost of replacing injured players such as 2B Akinori Iwamura and RHP Troy Percival make it even less likely.

But principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Friday that they don't need more players, just more out of the players they have and those coming back from injury such as Chad Bradford, Scott Kazmir and Brian Shouse.

"If I look around the team, there's nowhere that I think at this point that we could improve ourselves dramatically," Sternberg said before the game. "There's no glaring hole. I don't see a hole.

"With the guys we have here and those (returning) guys, yeah, this is what's getting it done. I don't think anyone is lining up to throw a great player at us. We're very fortunate. We really don't have glaring needs. It's just performance."

The one area where Sternberg might get an argument is the back end of the bullpen, but he said flatly, "If we spend more money, it's not going to be on a closer."

The injuries complicate the situation because not only are the Rays still paying significant salaries to those players, they have had to pay others to take their place.

So given that the Rays went into the season saying that with a payroll increase to $63 million they wouldn't have the financial flexibility to make any additions, the injury situation "certainly doesn't help," Sternberg said. "It's not any more likely than it was before the season started."

Not a vote for Pedro: The Rays had representatives watch RHP Pedro Martinez throw in the Dominican Republic on Friday, the second time they've seen him in the past two weeks.

Despite Martinez's public comments, it hasn't appeared the Rays were seriously interested, and it sounded even less so the way executive vice president Andrew Friedman addressed the issue Friday: "We have a responsibility to do our due diligence. But I think a lot more is being made of it publicly than really exists."

Changing it up: When RHP James Shields was working his way through the Rays' minor-league system relying on his changeup, he looked up to then-Twins star Johan Santana. Today, weather permitting, he will be looking across the field at him in their first head-to-head matchup that he labeled "changeup vs. changeup."

"There weren't too many guys that had a good changeup in the big leagues, and there still (aren't)," Shields said. "There's just a handful of guys that that's their pitch. So I always looked up to him and kind of saw how he pitched. I've got a lot of respect for him."

Shields admitted he's "pretty excited" about pitching against Santana. Not so much that he has to hit against him, too: "Hopefully, he doesn't show me too many changeups."

Two minor-leaguers suspended: Two teenage players on the Venezuelan Summer League team, OF Franklin Alcala and LHP Carlos Orasma, were suspended 50 games for testing positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance. The Rays had four minor-leaguers suspended last season, two from their Dominican program, one from the Venezuelan team and Class A RHP Matt Walker.

"We're very supportive of Major League Baseball's policy," Friedman said. "This is something that we take very seriously. We have a lot of measures in place to educate our players, especially in Latin America, about the policy and the negative effects that this can have both personally and professionally."

Miscellany: If today's game is rained out, there is talk of a Sunday doubleheader. … SS Jason Bartlett extended his DL-interrupted hitting streak to 14 games. … This is the Rays' fifth losing streak of three or more games. … RHP Andy Sonnanstine went 1-for-2 to raise his career average to .348 (8-for-23). … Pat Burrell isn't likely to be in rightfield today, manager Joe Maddon said, despite decent numbers (5-for-16) against Santana. … The Mets are 16-7 in the first games of series.

Don't count on any help, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg says 06/19/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 6:33am]

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