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Rays' skid doesn't concern Sternberg

ST. PETERSBURG — Owner Stuart Sternberg, in town for the weekend series, addressed the team in the clubhouse Friday for five minutes before batting practice. Manager Joe Maddon said the speech was more on the inspiring variety with Sternberg adding it wasn't anything "dramatic."

Sternberg said he wasn't overly concerned with the recent seven-game losing streak, adding the 162-game season is filled with ebbs and flows.

"There were a number of games that we got beat, but we played very well," he said.

The Rays' standing won't have a huge impact on their approach toward the upcoming trade deadline, Sternberg said, and they could be buyers or sellers but plan to stick to their game plan of being opportunistic without forcing a deal for the sake of change.

The Denver Post reported Friday that the Rays have shown interest in not only LHP closer Brian Fuentes but SS Clint Barmes and CF Willy Taveras.

"The team on the field right now is what's gotten us to this point," Sternberg said. "And we're pretty comfortable with it."

STADIUM TALK: Sternberg also spoke on the status of a new stadium. The Rays tabled plans for a waterfront park in downtown St. Petersburg and are awaiting recommendations from a Pinellas County committee.

"I think it's great that it's acknowledged that we'll need a new home here," Sternberg said. "And we're looking forward to the opportunity to see how it turns out."

START IT UP: In deciding to err on the side of caution, the Rays pushed LHP Scott Kazmir's scheduled start back two days to Monday against the A's.

Kazmir appeared in the 15th inning of Tuesday's All-Star Game, picking up the win while throwing 14 pitches. But it came two days after he threw 104 pitches against the Indians. RHP Matt Garza will start tonight followed by RHP Edwin Jackson on Sunday.

MEDICAL REPORT: As expected, RHP Al Reyes was activated from the disabled list. And Maddon said there are "no restrictions" on the 38-year-old reliever who missed 30 games because of right shoulder tendinitis.

Closer Troy Percival is getting closer to a return, saying he felt great after Thursday's 30-pitch outing against batters. The 38-year-old was scheduled to get evaluated by doctors before Friday's game, and an update could come as soon as today.

Percival, on his second DL stint this season with a nagging left hamstring strain, said he had no problems putting pressure on the leg.

"I worked myself into it the first six or seven pitches," Percival said. "And then I wasn't even thinking about it."

Maddon said SS Jason Bartlett (right knee sprain) is feeling better but is still unsure when he'll be ready.

CRAWFORD SHOWING SIGNS: LF Carl Crawford snapped a careerlong hitless streak at 26 at-bats with a single. The two-time All-Star has been "showing signs of putting it together," Maddon said.

"I thought last year, when he really got hot, he did a lot of really good two-strike hitting," Maddon said. "Just based off history, I really believe what I've seen with him … he just gets hot and stays hot.

"He just hasn't found that niche yet. I don't think he's that far off."

MISCELLANY: With a large crowd expected tonight, the Rays have activated the shuttle system to give fans a ride to the Trop. … Bartlett, Kazmir, RHP Jason Hammel and RHP James Shields will sign autographs from 11 a.m. to noon today at the International Plaza Rays Kids Zone. … Kazmir, 3B Evan Longoria and C Dioner Navarro will sign from 4:35 to 5:05 p.m. today along the first-base line.

Rays' skid doesn't concern Sternberg 07/18/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:44pm]
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