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Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon hopes his core players remain through trade deadline

OAKLAND, Calif. — The theory going into this week was that if the Rays didn't get back into the postseason race, they were likely to consider trading a number of veterans before Sunday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver deals.

But manager Joe Maddon said Thursday that he doesn't expect them to make many, or even any, deals.

"I know how this thing works," Maddon said. "But I really would anticipate that we're probably going to have the same guys over the next week or two weeks or three weeks or four weeks."

That would include CF B.J. Upton, who has been the subject of rampant trade speculation, with the Braves surfacing again. Of course, executive vice president Andrew Friedman, who remained at the Trop to work through the deadline, may decide otherwise, and players such as Upton, DH Johnny Damon, RHP Kyle Farnsworth and other relievers and any of their starters except LHP David Price could end up moved.

Upton, who returned to the lineup after Wednesday's unexpected day off, said he does not expect to be dealt, noting trades that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants, Colby Rasmus to the Jays and Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians.

"Nobody else needs a centerfielder; everybody that needed a centerfielder just got one," Upton said. "… I still don't think I'm going anywhere."

Upton, who hit several balls hard before homering in the eighth Thursday, said there was nothing wrong with his left quad, which was reported to be tight.

Maddon said he never interferes in trade talks during his frequent conversations with Friedman, but he would like to keep the current group together.

"At the end of the day, I always want the guys that I've got," he said. "I always believe the guys we've got here are capable. And maybe like a week or 10 days ago, everybody felt the same way. We've had a couple bad days and all of a sudden people want to blow things up. I'm not cut from that cloth. I'll say it again, I still believe there's a good run in us."

ON THE OTHER HAND: The Rays did make a deal Thursday, sending INF Felipe Lopez, the 10-year veteran who had been playing at Triple-A Durham to Milwaukee for cash considerations.

Lopez, who had two stints with the Rays (including one when he was benched for lack of hustle), was hitting .305 with seven homers and 37 RBIs for the Bulls. The Brewers needed help after 2B Rickie Weeks was injured Wednesday, though Lopez initially will report to Triple-A Nashville.

COME ON DOWN: RHP Mike Ekstrom was the latest member of the bullpen shuffle, summoned from Triple A (and flown in early Thursday) to replace RHP Rob Delaney, who on Wednesday replaced RHP Jay Buente, who on Tuesday replaced Cesar Ramos.

The shuttling is being done to compensate for being shorthanded, as they are carrying only six relievers, to make sure there is always a fresh arm to handle multiple innings, so each reliever has been sent down after being used.

Ekstrom looked headed for extensive duty Thursday, and thus a trip back, when Davis struggled in the first inning. But Ekstrom wasn't used and instead got to accompany the Rays to Seattle, near his family's Oregon home.

"I'm a big Wade Davis fan after he got through the six innings," Ekstrom said.

MISCELLANY: Fifth-round draft pick 3B J.D. Davis is close to signing, as is 28th-round C Blake Grant-Parks. … 2B/RF Ben Zobrist extended his hitting streak to eight games. … Elliot Johnson was to start at shortstop Thursday but since he played four innings in Wednesday's loss Maddon switched back to Sean Rodriguez.

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon hopes his core players remain through trade deadline 07/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 28, 2011 10:28pm]
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