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Jayson Werth rumors swirl as Tampa Bay Rays remain tight-lipped

BALTIMORE — The Rays typically don't say much about potential trades, except that they spend a lot of time discussing them.

While officials from other teams talk, scouts speculate, writers write and bloggers blog, the Rays prefer to just go about their business. Often, with the proviso that what's being discussed publicly isn't necessarily what they're doing. And not necessarily concerning themselves with addressing what's right and wrong.

That stance — which can make for smart business — makes them party to an excessive number of rumors, especially with the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver deals approaching.

The latest, fueled by several ESPN reports, has them talking, potentially seriously, to the Phillies about RF Jayson Werth, a 31-year-old right-hander who hit 36 homers a year ago but has struggled parts of this season, with a .283 average, 13 homers (none in July and only four since May 22) and 50 RBIs, with a penchant to walk, and strike out, a lot.

Those talks, reportedly, are tied to the Phillies also making a deal to acquire a front-line starting pitcher (Houston's Roy Oswalt, Arizona's Dan Haren and Oakland's Ben Sheets have been mentioned), then trading Werth to save the approximate $3.5 million remaining on the final year of his contract and calling up top prospect Domonic Brown, the former Pasco High star.

There were no indications from the Rays' side Wednesday that anything was imminent, though the Phillies' need for a starter Saturday could accelerate talks. The Phillies' demands could kill them as well, with ESPN's Jayson Stark reporting Wednesday that one source said they asked for RHP Wade Davis or CF B.J. Upton, a hefty price for a two-month rental.

The Rays are looking at other options as well, with Baltimore's Luke Scott (who made himself more appealing by going 6-for-12 with two homers in the three games), Chicago's Derrek Lee, Milwaukee's Corey Hart and Toronto's Jose Bautista (though it might require a third team) among the possibilities.

Here's what manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday about the possibility of adding a bat:

"You're always looking to make yourself better. Yeah, of course, if the right deal was out there to make us better, (executive VP Andrew Friedman) is always looking to do that. Absolutely we would embrace that opportunity.

"Then again if it weren't to happen … I think we're fine, too. I think the guys we have here plus the potential for help in the minor leagues could be very useful also. But you're always looking to make yourself better via a trade this time of the season, especially when you're in the position that we are. So definitely I would welcome it if it happened."

ABOUT TUESDAY NIGHT: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rays were the first team this season to lose a game after leading in the ninth inning and in extra innings in their 11-10 13-inning loss. … The Rays were charged with two blown saves after having blown only six in their first 92 games, second fewest in the majors.

RUST BELT: RHP Matt Garza said the nine days between starts "definitely" was a reason for his rough Tuesday outing, when he allowed three consecutive homers in the second and another in the third.

"There was a lot of rust," Garza said. "I even said before I went out there, I don't know what's going to happen. My body felt fine, my arm felt fine, I just couldn't locate my pitches."

MISCELLANY: Rocco Baldelli is scheduled to make his second DH start tonight for Class A Charlotte in a 6:30 game at Clearwater, then play again in Saturday's 6:30 game. … Francis Vizcaino, a pitcher for the Dominican Summer League team, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance.

Jayson Werth rumors swirl as Tampa Bay Rays remain tight-lipped 07/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 22, 2010 7:28am]
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