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Zobrist unaware of false trade rumor

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) fields a grounder by Seattle Mariners center fielder James Jones (99) in the first inning of the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) fields a grounder by Seattle Mariners center fielder James Jones (99) in the first inning of the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — INF/OF Ben Zobrist had just woken up from a nap Thursday when the texts started coming.

Did the Rays trade him to Pittsburgh?

"When it happened, I was really unaware of it," Zobrist said Friday.

He found out quickly. His wife, Julianna, was flying home from Los Angeles and started texting him about the rumors from the plane. Zobrist, tired from his son's early morning dentist appointment, hadn't heard anything.

After a few minutes checking the Internet and ESPN and a phone call to his dad, Zobrist learned the trade rumors were spawned by a phony Twitter account and had been debunked. By then, his family had received emails from people seeking Pirates tickets.

Zobrist, whose double in Friday's first inning moved him one behind 3B Evan Longoria (217) for the most in franchise history, had been the subject of trade rumors because of his versatility and a contract that expires after next season. Zobrist said he thought about the rumors occasionally but didn't let them overwhelm him and he is happy to stay in Tampa Bay.

And Rays manager Joe Maddon was happy to keep him, saying his departure would have been similar to losing ace David Price.

"That would have been, I think, a little bit more difficult only because of the everyday component and the versatility component," Maddon said.

SMYLY COMING: LHP Drew Smyly, who came from Detroit in Thursday's Price trade, is expected to arrive at Tropicana Field today and make his first start for the Rays on Tuesday. His No. 33 jersey was hanging at his new locker, which is next to Zobrist's.

INF Nick Franklin, who came from Seattle in the trade, was added to the roster at Triple-A Durham. The organization released veteran 2B Jayson Nix to make room for Franklin.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RF Wil Myers, recovering from a right wrist fracture, took 15 swings in the batting cage and said it went well. He's is expected to take more swings today and rest Sunday. The Rays hope to have him back in mid August.

C Ryan Hanigan took batting practice again and likely will begin a rehab assignment today at DH for Class A Charlotte. If all goes well, he'll likely take Sunday off and make two rehab starts at catcher next week. The Rays haven't said when he might rejoin the active roster.

ON ARCHER: RHP Chris Archer tonight will make his first start since Sunday's 3-2 loss to Boston — and his remarks about Red Sox slugger David Ortiz's home run actions. It also will be his first start without Price, his mentor.

Archer, 25, said Price's departure gives younger pitchers such as him an opportunity to fill the void, especially by pitching deeper into games to save the bullpen.

"Maybe this will be our opportunity to do that and prevail," said Archer, who has lasted at least six innings in 10 of his past 12 starts.

MISCELLANY: Seminole Tribe medicine man Bobby Henry is expected to be a guest of the Rays this weekend. … RHP Joel Peralta struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning.

Zobrist unaware of false trade rumor 08/01/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 1, 2014 11:44pm]

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