09/18/12 7:02 PM ET
Longoria to fans: 'Don't count us out'
By Bill Chastain and Greg Zeck / MLB.com
Only 11,722 people were on hand to catch the action, but third baseman Evan Longoria told fans not to count out Tampa Bay, which trails Baltimore by five games in the American League Wild Card standings.
"Like we say every year at this time, regardless of if we have 20 or 30 [thousand], or whatever the number was [Monday], we can use all the support we can get," Longoria said. "We've got nine games left at home, and they're all important. The more we get, the better it's going to be."
Longoria was quick to point out that the empty seats should not at all affect on how the team plays, but he did say a larger crowd could help the team's energy level.
"We played pretty dead as a club," Longoria said. "The blame isn't placed on any one person, but we didn't play with any energy last night. That was pretty obvious from my standpoint. We have to find a way regardless of how many people are in this building to find some energy and some offense."
It might be Longoria's presence in the lineup that ends up being the most beneficial for the Rays. In games he starts, they're 35-24, a much better mark than the 43-45 mark without him in the lineup.
Longoria, who dealt with a partially torn left hamstring earlier this season, said he should be able to play either as a designated hitter or at third in the rest of the club's final 15 games after missing Monday's contest.
Longoria served as Tampa Bay's DH on Tuesday against Boston, and he added that he is fine to play in the field as well.
Price named Clemente Award nominee
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays ace David Price has been exceptional on the field this season, but it's his work off of it that's also been turning some heads.
Thanks to his work with Project One Four and in the Tampa Bay community, Price was named the Rays' nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
The lefty is one of 30 finalists for the award that "represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement."
Price said he was honored to be named a finalist for the award that honors the memory of Clemente, who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve in 1972 while delivering supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
"Roberto Clemente is a guy that I wrote a paper on when I was a kid because I admired the work he had done in the game of baseball and what he really stood for off the field," Price said. "It's a very big award to be nominated for, and I'm very happy."
Price's own charitable foundation, Project One Four, benefits youths in the Tampa Bay area and his hometown of Nashville, Tenn., donating school supplies and clothes to children.
"We just want to help as many kids as possible," Price said of what he wants to accomplish, "and we're trying to help whatever sports we can in that way, and sponsor teams and give money to traveling teams so they can go to some tournaments."
Price also helped create the Dugout Club program as part of the Rays' South St. Petersburg Neighborhood initiative in 2010 and sponsored the "David Price Bowl For Kids' Sake" bowling event in April that helped Big Brother Big Sisters.
"That's something that I remember my parents telling me as a little kid -- if I was ever in the position to give back, that's something I needed to look into doing," Price said. "I guess it's just my parents rubbing off on me."
The winner of the national award will be selected during the World Series and join the likes of past winners including David Ortiz, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols and 14 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Fans can vote through Oct. 14 at MLB.com/ClementeAward and will be entered for a chance to go to the World Series.
During a pregame ceremony Tuesday, Chevrolet, the title sponsor of the award, donated $7,500 to a charity of Price's choice.
Cobb moves past dugout beef with Molina
ST. PETERSBURG -- As far as Alex Cobb is concerned, his rift with catcher Jose Molina during Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Red Sox is "over with."
"It's really nothing," said Cobb.
After surrendering a two-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in the sixth inning that also featured a wild pitch and passed ball, Cobb and Molina were arguing in the Rays' dugout and had to be separated by pitching coach Jim Hickey.
While Cobb said he has moved on, he hasn't talked with Molina since the argument.
"No, I haven't even seen him yet," Cobb said. "There's really nothing to say. We were in the heat of the moment in a big game. Things escalated a little bit. I'm sure everybody in their life has had a little bit of controversy with somebody else in their past. It's nothing more than that."
Cobb said pitcher and catcher squabbles are commonplace in baseball.
"Most of the time it's where the cameras can't see," Cobb said, "or one will pull one aside and say something when one doesn't like what the other one is doing. And they'll talk about it behind closed doors. But in the heat of the moment last night, I think it just came out where it did in the dugout."
Vogt's throw to cut down runner impresses Maddon
ST. PETERSBURG -- Stephen Vogt delivered a bullet to third baseman Sean Rodriguez to nail speedy Jacoby Ellsbury for the third out in the ninth inning of Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Red Sox.
The throw and the moment were a good measure for the improvements Vogt has made behind the plate this summer while catching for Triple-A Durham.
Vogt bats left-handed and the Rays like his abilities as a hitter, which he put on display during Spring Training. But they wanted to see some defensive progress, so save for the little time he spent with the big league club, he spent most of the year with the Bulls.
Vogt, 27, understood his situation and got enough work behind the plate to feel like he made some progress.
"My focus this year was to mainly get better on blocking and throwing and to develop more arm strength," Vogt said. "And I did that, playing long toss every single day this whole season and I just really focused on gaining arm strength.
"The last couple of months down in Durham, I felt like I really gained arm strength and that I've been throwing really well, like I've made a lot of strides."
Manager Joe Maddon said that Vogt indeed made progress this season.
"That was a great throw [Monday night]," Maddon said. "The thing again, these are the things I watch for. You see him in the batter's box, you see him behind the plate, very calm, very calm. He has not been playing. It's a pretty big moment. He was back there with really good self-awareness and poise."
Nobody knows what the Rays' catching situation will look like next year, so Vogt will likely be one of the team's options come spring.
"Moving down the road, he's not a spring chicken either. I like the way he handles the moment," Maddon said. "Of course his defensive skills have improved. Where's he going to be in the future? I don't know that yet, but I liked what he did yesterday a lot."
Minor Leaguer Blaise suspended 50 games
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced Tuesday that Rays Minor League left-hander Brett Blaise has received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for an amphetamine, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The suspension of Blaise, who is currently on the roster of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays, will be effective at the start of next season.
Blaise signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent this past summer after going 4-4 with a 4.10 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 68 innings at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss. Prior to pitching for Belhaven, he pitched for two seasons at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville, Miss.
Blaise went 1-1 with an 8.36 ERA in eight relief outings for the Gulf Coast League Rays this summer.
The Rays have had a rough summer where suspensions are concerned. Former No. 1 overall pick (2008 Draft) Tim Beckham, who played for Triple-A Durham, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for marijuana.
Later in the summer, Josh Sale, the Rays' No. 1 pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for methamphetamine and an amphetamine. Sale was joined by three of his teammates at Bowling Green who were also suspended for the same offense: second baseman Ryan Brett, pitcher Charles Cononie and pitcher Justin Woodall.
All three players received 50-game suspensions as well.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.