ST. PETERSBURG — On the eve of what could be his final home start in a Rays uniform, David Price refused to say anything about the trade chatter swirling around him.
Except that he hears it, and he's human. So pondering the potential significance of today's start is only natural, right?
"I don't think I'm very natural," the Rays' lone Cy Young Award winner said before Tuesday's game.
"Obviously I think about it; it's why I've been in a bad mood for the past week and a half. It's nothing I really want to talk about. … I don't know where I'm going, I don't know when I'm going, so there's nothing really I have to comment on."
Nor is there really anything his manager can say to him. As the subject of dealing Price has evolved from speculation to certainty, Joe Maddon said he understands the rumblings bother his three-time All-Star, but he can't ameliorate his concerns or thoughts.
"He needs to feel my support all the time; I hope he does," Maddon said. "Beyond all that, part of this is a business and when you get caught up in the business component sometimes that makes it uncomfortable.
"On the other hand, I think his performance has been great, regardless of rumors or whatever."
HELLICKSON ON HOLD: In the wake of RHP Jeremy Hellickson's latest rough rehab outing, the Rays are putting off his return for at least a few days. Look for another right-hander, either Nate Karns (3-4, 5.58 ERA) or Alex Colome (3-1, 3.54), to be called up from Triple-A Durham to start in Friday's doubleheader at Baltimore.
Hellickson, who had elbow surgery in January, has allowed 12 earned runs in 10 rehab innings (over three starts) at Durham. On Sunday, he allowed six runs (five earned) in five innings.
ESCOBAR OUT: SS Yunel Escobar, pulled late with a sore right shoulder, will be replaced by Ben Zobrist in today's series finale. Maddon said that with two days' rest, including Thursday's off day, he expects Escobar to be fine in time for Friday's doubleheader.
MOLINA BY A NECK: C Jose Molina, a late insertion into the starting lineup for Ryan Hanigan (neck stiffness), had hits in his first two at-bats. His fifth-inning double, resulting in his second RBI of the year, snapped a 45-game drought without an extra-base hit dating to Sept. 23, 2013.
WHO'S ON FIRST? One of the season's most bizarre sequences occurred in the top of the fifth, when Pirates RF Gregory Polanco reached on an infield single then was called out for interfering with 1B James Loney's attempt to catch Starling Marte's pop-up.
Marte was awarded first base, which led to considerable discussion among the umpires and Maddon. "I had never seen that before, never," Maddon said. "I'm out there and the best explanation is, it's the equivalent of a line drive being hit and the ball hitting the baserunner and the batter being awarded the bag."
Marte then got caught stealing second after his head rammed into Sean Rodriguez's knee. He exited with concussion-like symptoms.
STRIKE A POSE: The ninth annual Rays on the Runway will be held today at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg. Rays players, their wives or girlfriends, and some special "dream children" will hit the fashion runway to benefit kids with life-threatening illnesses. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets, visit childrensdreamfund.org or call (727) 896-6390.
ODDS AND ENDS: The Rays grounded into two double plays, tying them with Texas for most in the majors (73). … Rays LHP Enny Romero (Durham) and C Justin O'Conner (Class A Charlotte) were chosen for the All-Star Futures Game to be played July 13 at Minnesota's Target Field. … The Rays have held the majors' worst record for 21 consecutive days.