Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays say only they'll be talking about potential trades

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The likelihood of the Rays making a significant trade — whether involving James Shields, another pitcher or anyone else — before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline remains the subject of intense speculation throughout the industry.

And according to the one man who would know best — Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman — the only certainty is they will talk a lot about the possibilities.

"We've been having a lot of different conversations with a lot of different teams, which is very typical for this time of year," Friedman said Saturday. "Our policy of not commenting publicly provides endless humor-filled fodder. A lot is made of things that are just not true.

"As always, we are looking for ways to positively impact our organization and make it better in the short term as well as the long term. If we're able to line up on a deal that does that, we're going to be very aggressive. As is customary this time of year, a lot of different things are being discussed, so it is difficult to accurately handicap the chances of a deal."

Shields remains the focus of most of the speculation, with the Braves, Dodgers, Indians and Rangers reported to be the most interested, and others likely. The right-hander has maintained that the rumors are neither a distraction nor a concern and — especially with the input of teammate David Price — has been joking about his status.

Approached by reporters before Saturday's game for an update, he pointed to the sign above his locker: "See, I've still got my number."

The Rays are in an interesting position, trying to gauge the likelihood of 3B Evan Longoria making an impactful return from injury, weighing their chances of making the postseason under different scenarios, and evaluating what offers are presented for their surplus of pitching.

Manager Joe Maddon, who said he doesn't think the team will make a major deal, reported there was "nothing new" on Saturday.

LONGO SORE: Longoria was "a little bit sore" after playing consecutive games at DH for Triple-A Durham and wasn't in the lineup Saturday, but Maddon said it wasn't a concern or setback, and Longoria is expected to resume playing today.

"He just felt a little bit sore but nothing abnormal," Maddon said. "He wanted to play. But (Longoria and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield) talked it over and Ronnie felt, they agreed, it was just best to let him just sit (Saturday)."

Longoria is being used as a DH with the hope he can return to the Rays as soon as this week. He has been out since partially tearing his left hamstring on April 30.

PEÑA SITS: 1B Carlos Peña was not in the Rays starting lineup as Maddon used eight right-handed (or switch-hitting) batters, with Matt Joyce as the only left-hander. Also, Ben Zobrist was the DH in an effort to get him off his feet for most of a day.

That created an infield alignment with Brooks Conrad at second base and Jeff Keppinger at first, though Maddon said it was more palatable because they started LHP Matt Moore, who tends to be more of a fly ball pitcher.

Peña did come into the game for defensive purposes in the ninth inning, replacing Keppinger at first.

MISCELLANY: LHP Cesar Ramos is being used as a starting pitcher at Durham to provide depth in the event of an injury or trade at the big-league level. … INF Derek Dietrich, a 2010 second-round pick, was promoted to Double-A Montgomery after hitting .282 with 10 HRs and 58 RBIs in 98 games at advanced Class A Charlotte. … The Bulls — except for Longoria, who flew — took a nine-hour bus ride Friday night from Lawrenceville, Ga., to Norfolk, Va., only to find their hotel didn't have rooms ready. Tweeted INF Will Rhymes: "I'm pretty sure we are being punk'd. Where are the cameras?"

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