Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon downplays odds of trading for bat

ST. PETERSBURG — The chances remained unlikely Friday night — "less than 50 percent," manager Joe Maddon said — that the Rays would make a trade to add a bat by today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver deals.

And if they do, it's likely to come down to the wire.

"If something's going to be done, 11th hour is going to be it," Maddon said.

The most popular subject of speculation — for the Rays, anyway, despite a reportedly steep price tag — remained Washington slugger Adam Dunn, who might have made himself more appealing by softening his previously stated opposition to being a DH.

After being quoted last week as saying he didn't want to DH and if he had to, he'd "probably go home," Dunn told the Washington Post on Friday he could handle a short stay with an American League team. "That's just DHing for two months," he said. "It's not like if I make this move, it's career-ending."

Dunn, 30, also said he is still open to working out an extension with the Nationals and he'd guess it was about "50-50" he would still be a National tonight. The White Sox are also interested.

The two players the Rays were believed to be most interested in are no longer available. Kansas City OF David DeJesus was injured, and Philadelphia OF Jayson Werth was supposedly taken off the market (though Phillies special assistant Charley Kerfeld was at the Trop on Friday for a second straight night).

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman and his staff were exploring opportunities and having discussions. Without getting specific, Maddon indicated the conversations have been interesting.

"It's the other-side thing, what they want in return for what we want," Maddon said. "Sometimes you always believe it's a little bit too much, unfair, whatever. It just keeps going back and forth."

Maddon also reiterated the Rays have options in the minors, most likely INF Dan Johnson and OF Desmond Jennings.

GARZA ON TASK: Though Monday's no-hitter remains a popular topic off the field, RHP Matt Garza insisted he won't be thinking about it when he takes the mound tonight.

"Obviously, it's still going to be going on for a while, not with me, but with the media and everybody around here because it's a big deal," Garza said. "So I just have to stay focused on my job at hand, and that's to get ready for New York and not worry about anything else.

"Because the last thing I need to do is fall into a no-hitter/perfect game track, and that's what a lot of guys have done. My whole goal was to get everything (with the no-hitter) done by Wednesday, and we've done a good job with that."

MEDICAL MATTERS: INF/OF Ben Zobrist felt better but remained idled, and he will be out again today and possibly through the weekend because of a stiff back. He said the plan is to attempt significant activity Sunday, to determine whether he is close to returning or needs more time and might end up on the disabled list. "We should know something by then," Zobrist said.

CF B.J. Upton returned after leaving Tuesday's game with a sprained left ankle, saying he was determined to be in the lineup against the Yankees.

"It's good enough to get out there, and that's all that matters with this series," Upton said.

MISCELLANY: The sellout was the first since opening day. … Rafael Soriano logged his AL-leading 29th save. … The Rays hadn't won on a Friday since May 7. … With a win tonight, the Rays would match their best month (June 2004) at 20-6. … There was a pregame moment of silence for George Steinbrenner, the former Yankees owner and Tampa resident who died July 13. … The families of slain Tampa police officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab were guests of the Rays. … An unidentified fan was taken to Bayfront Medical Center for observation after being struck in the forehead by a broken bat… Rocco Baldelli is scheduled to DH tonight for Class A Charlotte in Tampa.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon downplays odds of trading for bat 07/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 31, 2010 1:37am]

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