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Trade rumors involving Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett prove false

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Rumors Tuesday morning that the Rays were talking to the Orioles about trading SS Jason Bartlett for OF Nolan Reimold quickly evolved into reports that the deal was imminent.

But it never happened, and may have never even been close, for good reason. The Rays were talking to the Orioles, among other teams, but remain more focused on acquiring bullpen help if they deal Bartlett, who appears their primary trade chip.

And it's unlikely they would target Reimold, a poor defender with a history of injuries and inconsistent play given the abundance of similar right-handed hitting outfielders on the free-agent market.

That the Rays, per team policy, won't comment on potential trades added to the escalating speculation, a reality that executive VP Andrew Friedman acknowledged sometimes works against them, as did reports that there was more to the deal, with the Baltimore Sun naming reliever Alfredo Simon as a possibility.

By Tuesday night, the talk appeared nothing more than another overblown rumor. But the Rays had enough other "bullpen-centric" things working — offers on the table to "a few" free agents, trade talks with other teams — that Friedman continued to express confidence that the first step in their reconstruction would come before the meetings end Thursday.

"We've had conversations on a lot of different fronts, but I wouldn't characterize anything as imminent," Friedman said. "But there are some possibilities that we're excited about and feel like potentially address an area of weakness for us."

HAPPY LOU: Former Rays manager Lou Piniella is enjoying his first few months of retirement at age 67, planning to move to a new house in Tampa, working out regularly (including 26-mile bike rides) and tackling a long list of chores provided by his wife, Anita.

Piniella, honored Tuesday by commissioner Bud Selig along with retiring colleagues Joe Torre, Cito Gaston and Bobby Cox, expects to eventually take a consulting role with a team but said he hasn't made any plans.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Dave Eiland, the former Yankees pitching coach and Rays pitcher, is in talks about a position in the minors or as a front-office special assistant. … The Cubs were meeting for a second time with 1B Carlos Peña's agent. … Rumored rumors include the Rangers and Brewers discussing RHP Matt Garza, the Rays interested in free-agent RHP Jeremy Accardo, the Mets in ex-Ray Chad Qualls. … Ex-Ray RHP Joaquin Benoit won the Tony Conigliaro Award, given by the Red Sox to a player who overcomes adversity through "the attributes of spirit, determination and courage."

YANKEE STEW: The Yankees appear frustrated by the slow pace of talks with LHP Cliff Lee. General manager Brian Cashman said in Tampa that, as a free agent, Lee "dictates the pace" but indicated there's definite limits to how high they'll go and how long they'll wait.

MISCELLANY: OF Matt Diaz, a former Ray who was nontendered by Atlanta, got a two-year deal with the Pirates. … The Red Sox may still have interest in OF Carl Crawford after talk Monday they were out, and the Angels are talking about him and RHP Rafael Soriano. … Former Ray Ty Wigginton got a two-year, $8 million deal with the Rockies. … Colorado manager Jim Tracy was released from a hospital and went home to Bradenton after collapsing in the hotel lobby late Monday due to mild arrhythmia. … Giants 2B Freddie Sanchez had shoulder surgery.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Trade rumors involving Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett prove false 12/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:19am]
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