Friday, May 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays players try to block out trade rumors

Rays right-hander James Shields was getting ready for pregame stretching one day last week when the clubhouse televisions began to buzz about the latest trade rumors.

"Shields could be moved," MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported.

With the nonwaiver trade deadline at 4 p.m. July 31, it's baseball's silly season, with rumors and reports — many of which are not true — spreading like wildfire on Twitter, TV and talk radio.

"There's a lot of crazy talk going around," Shields said, smiling.

On one day, a CBSSports.com report said Shields was frustrated with the Rays and would perform better elsewhere (which Shields denied). On another, ESPN's Jim Bowden said Shields was discussed, along with Ben Zobrist, in a potential trade with the Angels (a report that drew laughs from the Rays brass).

As much as players try to avoid the chatter and tune it out, they hear it from their friends and family, who are wondering what the future will hold.

"It's very tough to go through," Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton said. "I think, for me, I've dealt with it for the last three-four years, so I've kind of gotten used to it. But you know, if it's new to you, it's definitely tough, especially when you've been with an organization for a number of years."

•••

Indians first baseman Casey Kotchman, an ex-Ray and Seminole High product, recalls getting traded on the deadline day in 2009, when the media beat his team to the punch.

Kotchman, then with Atlanta, was hanging out in the home clubhouse in his Braves shorts when he saw on the television scrawl that he had been traded to Boston for Adam LaRoche.

Kotchman's agent, Casey Close, had given him a heads up that something might be happening, but Kotchman still had no answers for his teammates, who kept approaching him at his locker with questions.

"I was like, 'Do I go to batting practice, or do I get ready for stretch?' " Kotchman said. "You're in a holding pattern."

Being in that kind of limbo can be challenging for players, who are worried about leaving teammates and relocating their families while trying to remain focused on the field.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said on a few occasions, they've approached players and re-assured them a rumor wasn't true. But, for the most part, players are left on their own.

Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan said he follows the rumors a lot, with closer Chris Perez acknowledging it affected him more as a younger player.

"I think maybe some guys get kind of caught up in that too much, where if they like where they're at, they try to do too much to stay," Perez said. "Or, vice versa, if they don't like where they're at, they kind of shut it down and facilitate that trade on their own."

Upton said he felt the burden of the uncertainty the most last year.

"It's always a possibility, but I felt like last year was a serious possibility," Upton said. "Especially where we were in the standings, at the time, and everything that was going on. But I made it. I'm still here."

Shields said he doesn't read too much into the rumors, because that's all they usually end up being.

"A lot of things people throw out there, and it's all talk," Shields said.

Indians leftfielder Johnny Damon, an ex-Ray, remembered early in his career when there were talks he was headed to the Yankees, but one report that he didn't want to play in New York.

Damon, of course, ended up playing four seasons in the Bronx (2006-09), winning a World Series his final year.

"A lot of things get made up this time of year," Damon said. "But I think people realized that if they want the real source, just come to me."

But as Rays infielder Jeff Keppinger, who has been traded five times (three times in July), points out: "Come this time of year, I don't think anybody is labeled 'untouchable.' "

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames goes back to AAA, leaving Rays with “a lot to be excited about’

Willy Adames' first stint in the major leagues ended as planned Thursday night when he was optioned back to Triple-A Durham at the end of his planned three-game cameo filling in for new father Joey Wendle.Adames said going back down was "tough" even ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Published: 05/24/18
For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

For starters: Rays vs. Red Sox, with Snell on the mound

Having lost a pair of close games, the Rays will try again tonight to beat the Red Sox, and will have LHP Blake Snell on the mound.SS Willy Adames is in the lineup for the Rays for the third and what is expected to be the final time before being sent...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

Rays morning after: Chris Archer, David Price sure matched up like they meant it

For two guys who said they didn't make much of matching up, they sure dueled like they did in Boston's 4-1 victory that was decided after they left.Chris Archer, the Rays current top starter, worked six impressive innings, allowing one run and four h...
Published: 05/24/18
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Published: 05/24/18
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Published: 05/24/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Published: 05/23/18