ST. PETERSBURG — As the rest of baseball awaits their decision on whether to trade ace LHP David Price, the Rays are likely to wait until close to Thursday's 4 p.m. deadline to decide.
Though the team's hot streak has made a deal seem unlikely to those in the Rays clubhouse, team officials, working out of a conference room turned command center with shades drawn, continue discussing and remain open to the possibility, as they have been.
Waiting not only allows more time to get the type of hefty offer they've been seeking (from the Cards, Dodgers, Mariners or a surprise team), but also to better assess their chances of winning the American League East if they keep Price, with their wild-card possibilities much less of a factor in the decision.
With two more wins against Milwaukee and two Baltimore losses to the Angels, the Rays would be within a reasonable five games with 54 to go (including seven with the O's), making a trade unlikely. Lose two to Milwaukee while Baltimore wins two and being nine out seems like too much to make up. Status quo of seven would make for an interesting call.
Price is scheduled to start Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. game, which could put him in an odd "must-win" situation. Or an awkward one if trade talks were to progress but not be consummated.
Price is preparing for the start as scheduled, though the Rays have put a backup plan in place, having pushed RHP Alex Colome's next Triple-A start back from tonight until Wednesday, so he would be available if needed. (LHP Erik Bedard, who would have been an option, was designated for assignment.)
ERIK THE GONE: Having made only one one-inning appearance since RHP Jeremy Hellickson first rejoined the rotation July 8, Bedard was dumped to make room for RHP Joel Peralta's return from the DL. The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers. Bedard was 4-6, 4.95 in 15 starts and of little use in relief.
VIRUS CONFIRMED: Peralta said tests confirmed that his illness was the chikungunya virus, which is contracted via mosquitoes in Caribbean countries and causes fever, joint pain and fatigue. "It was easier on me than most people, though," said Peralta, who became ill after returning home to the Dominican Republic during the All-Star break. Blood tests came back positive Friday. He said he feels at 90 percent strength.
Without naming names, the county health department confirmed chikungunya also, saying a third Pinellas case involved "a 38-year-old male who traveled to the Caribbean in July."
SCOUTING CHANGES: The Rays let go all three of their area scouts in California — Josh Arhart, Robbie Moen and Brian Morrison — plus Florida-based Ronnie Merrill. "We evaluated and made some changes," scouting director R.J. Harrison said.
CATCHING ON: C Ryan Hanigan (left oblique) is eyeing a return to active duty Friday. Hanigan, out since July 9, took batting practice with plans to do so again today then Wednesday make the first of two possible rehab appearances with advanced Class A Charlotte.
MISCELLANY: RHP Brad Boxberger made his 13th straight scoreless appearance, spanning 151/3 innings.