ST. PETERSBURG — Not having David Price in the Rays clubhouse Friday, his extra wide locker barren, the five-gum dispenser and posterized photo of his dog, Astro, removed, was noticeably odd.
"It feels," pitcher Alex Cobb said, "like something is missing."
But as disappointed as the Rays players were to see their ace pitcher traded to Detroit in a three-way deal Thursday, they said they were encouraged their bosses didn't further break up a team they feel can still make a run at the playoffs.
"I don't feel like they've given up," third baseman/team leader Evan Longoria said. "If they really were giving up on us this year or in the near future, there could have been, potentially, a few more guys they could have moved."
Rays officials acknowledged their place in the standings — eight games out in the AL East, 5½ for the second wild card at the time — was a factor in trading Price but also said they believed the team could still compete for a playoff spot.
"I'm not smart enough to think about all the percentages and what they calculate to figure out the costs and whatever 'x' amount of dollars is worth versus our chances of whatever along the lines they came to the reasoning that it was better suited for the organization to move on," Cobb said.
"All I know is that this wasn't a fire sale. I think that speaks volumes to the fact that this organization thought, yeah, we're going to take a little bit of a hit out of you guys, but we're going to give you the core back."
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman reached out to several players to make sure they understood the thinking behind trading Price and reinforce his confidence in the team. And the players, many of whom spent Thursday night at an impromptu going-away party at an unhappy Price's house, said they got it.
"It's going to be a big blow to us as a club," infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist said. "But we've got to keep marching on and doing what we're capable of doing."