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With Indians' trade of Cliff Lee to Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays unlikely to make any major deals

ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Cliff Lee went to the Phillies on Wednesday, and the Rays' interest in making a major trade before Friday's nonwaiver deadline may have gone with him.

The Rays will continue to explore a number of options over the remaining hours — likely from Toronto ace RHP Roy Halladay and Indians C Victor Martinez to a complementary arm for the bullpen — but don't appear likely to do much.

"I know (executive VP Andrew Friedman) is still hunkered down trying to get some things done," manager Joe Maddon said. "But let me put it this way: I wouldn't be surprised if nothing happened."

The Rays appeared to have interest in Lee and Martinez as a package, which may have just been a way to get Lee, who would have become their ace. Halladay obviously would be, too, though the cost seems prohibitive.

Their interest in Martinez alone would seem less since he is not considered a strong defensive catcher (and has had arm problems) and likely would have to be used at first and DH to get regular at-bats.

"I thought more recently that his catching had gotten better and I think probably because his arm had gotten better," Maddon said. "Really good hitter, both sides of the plate. He's a tough out. And he's one of those guys that sees a lot of pitches. He's a pretty complete offensive player."

Maddon said he got to know Martinez, 30, during the All-Star Game and they laughed about their confrontation earlier this season: "As it turns out, he's really a good guy." Martinez makes $4.5 million this season and has a $7 million option for 2010.

Maddon called Lee "a very interesting pitcher," adding, "It's obviously good for the Phillies, and he's in the other league, so that makes it better. If we can't have him, send him to the other league."

GIVING BACK: LF Carl Crawford teamed with Yankees LHP CC Sabathia to put on a clinic Wednesday afternoon for more than 200 kids from area Boys & Girls Clubs, trying to encourage more African-American youth to play baseball.

Crawford, who spent a lot of time while growing up in Houston at the Boys & Girls Club, said he had fun and hoped the message would "rub off on at least one person."

"It's just because the percentage of African-Americans in baseball is so low, you want to give them the heads up on things they can do, let them know the game is fun," Crawford said. "They don't all have to run to basketball and football."

Crawford speaks from experience. A three-sport star in high school (he was offered a basketball scholarship to UCLA and a football one to Nebraska), Crawford told the kids he "wasn't even attracted by playing (baseball), I was more attracted just by the uniform itself," and the passion for the game grew from there.

MEDICAL MATTERS: 2B Akinori Iwamura and OF Fernando Perez went through batting practice, with Maddon saying they could be ready to return a little earlier than the target date of September roster expansion. Maddon said Perez, rehabbing from left wrist surgery, "swung the bat really well — I don't see any hesitation, I don't see him favoring it at all."

STEP CLOSER: Backup C Shawn Riggans returned from his rehab assignment in Port Charlotte and was optioned to Triple-A Durham. Riggans has been on the disabled list since April 10 with right shoulder tendinitis.

price check: LHP David Price, Friday's scheduled starter, was available out of the bullpen the past two nights. But when it became apparent he wouldn't be used, they had him throw his regularly scheduled bullpen session in the ninth Wednesday. He will still start Friday.

MISCELLANY: 3B Evan Longoria homered for the second straight night and has homered in five of his past 16 games after going 19 games without one. … The Rays Broadcast Auction Tuesday raised $60,000 for the Rays Baseball Foundation.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

With Indians' trade of Cliff Lee to Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays unlikely to make any major deals 07/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009 8:52am]

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