6/21/2013 3:27 P.M. ET
Rays mark milestone with 2,500th game
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Thursday night marked the 2,500th game in franchise history.
The first game was an 11-6 loss to the Tigers at Tropicana Field on March 31, 1998. Some who were in uniform for that game were present for Thursday night's game at Yankee Stadium, including Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the Rays' first manager; Yankees broadcaster John Flaherty, who caught for the Rays; and Rays bench coach Davey Martinez, who played outfield and actually got the Rays' first hit.
"First hit, first at-bat," Martinez said. "Guy's playing behind the base [at first], it was a two-hopper and it hit the base. That was my first at-bat. I was hitting eighth. It went straight up in the air."
Martinez said it's "unbelievable" where the organization was when it started and where it is now.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said.
Sternberg confident in Rays' chances in 2013
NEW YORK -- Stu Sternberg was at Yankee Stadium with his family on Thursday night, which is usually the case for the Rays' principal owner when the team plays in New York, since he lives in the area.
However, what was unusual was that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn also was at Yankee Stadium.
It's no secret that Sternberg would like a new stadium for the Rays, and Tampa is seemingly a possible location for said stadium. Countering that hope is St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who has been adamant about the city having a binding lease with the team through 2027.
But apparently there was no stadium talk on the agenda on Thursday night as Buckhorn attended the game with a group from the Tampa Economic Development Corporation, which was in New York on a business trip.
"It's unusual. I'm here, and he's here," Sternberg said.
Sternberg did speak with Buckhorn and his group on the field, and eventually he got around to talking about his team a little bit, too.
And everybody's talking about Wil Myers these days, so why should Sternberg have been any different?
"It's great we had the opportunity to bring him up," said Sternberg, who noted that seeing such young players as Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria and Matt Moore come up through the years has brought special times to the franchise.
"It's always a really exciting time for a few days, then it's like they've been here a while."
His gut feeling about this year's team?
"Before the season I thought we could count on our defense," he said. "It's been there. Everything else has been topsy-turvy."
Nevertheless, Sternberg believes that the Rays will be playing meaningful games in September, but added, "We have to start replicating on offense what we did in May, and start pitching better."
Longoria records 500th career RBI
NEW YORK -- Evan Longoria's sacrifice fly off Andy Pettitte in the third inning on Thursday night was cause to have the ball taken out of the game. Longoria now has 500 career RBIs, and he reached the milestone faster than all but seven active players.
Those to reach the mark in fewer games than Longoria's 710 are Ryan Howard (575), Albert Pujols (623), Todd Helton (651), Josh Hamilton (667), Mark Teixeira (694), Miguel Cabrera (697) and Justin Morneau (706).
"It's very significant," Longoria said. "It's a mile marker, but it's a pretty good amount of RBIs and something I'm pretty proud of. It will be one of those things I'll be able to look back on and say, 'At least I had 500.' Hopefully, there's some more. But 500 ... is a pretty good amound of RBIs that I was able to achieve."
Ironically, Longoria's RBI places him just in front of Travis Hafner, who reached the plateau in 711 games. Hafner was in the Yankees' lineup as the designated hitter on Thursday.
Rays sign first-round Draft pick Ciuffo
NEW YORK -- The Rays agreed to terms Thursday with their first-round pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, catcher Nick Ciuffo, and announced his signing on Friday, after he had passed a physical.
"With the slot value where it was, it was just really too good of a deal to turn down," said Ciuffo on a Friday afternoon conference call.
Ciuffo, 18, was the 21st overall selection. He will receive a $1,974,700 bonus, which matches the recommended slot value for the pick.
"We like his tools and the chance [for him] to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues," Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said. "He's a high school kid that's going to start his journey and work his way through the Minor Leagues. He's got a plus arm, average defender, and we like his bat and power. And he's a tough kid. We like the kid."
Ciuffo is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds and bats left-handed. The product of Lexington (S.C.) High School had made a commitment to play at South Carolina. When asked what he thought his toughest adjustment would be, the youngster cited two areas.
"I think getting used to the wood bat, that's obviously a challenge," Ciuffo said. "But I think the biggest thing for me will be communicating with Spanish-speaking pitchers. You know, I've never really been around Spanish-speaking people, and in my mind, that's going to be my biggest adjustment, kind of adjusting to their style."
As for the bonus money, which obviously was enough to change the lifestyle of an 18-year-old, Ciuffo sounded grounded when asked what plans he had for his newly acquired wealth.
"I'll probably get a car, then put it away," said Ciuffo, noting that he has financial people, including his mother, to take care of his money. "The biggest thing for me is to get this opportunity to be in a great organization and get going and start playing."
Ciuffo was asked on the night the Rays drafted him if he thought the team's catching situation within the organization would allow him to move more quickly to the Major Leagues.
"It's hard to say," Ciuffo said. "I wouldn't really say they haven't had success when it comes to developing catchers. I'm not really sure about who they've had in the past. But I can guarantee everybody in Tampa Bay and everybody in the state of Florida one thing. I can't promise you that I'm going to get to the big leagues, but I can promise you there won't be another catcher coming out of this Draft that's going to work harder than me to get to the big leagues."
Colome to start against Yankees on Saturday
NEW YORK -- Alex Colome will start Saturday's game against the Yankees in New York.
Manager Joe Maddon made the announcement following the Rays' 8-3 win over the Yankees on Thursday night.
The fireballing right-hander, 24, made one start earlier this season, and did well. Recalled to pitch against Miami on May 30, Colome responded by holding the Marlins to one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings to earn his first Major League win.
"He pitched really well down in Miami," Maddon said. "He's a wonderful young man. He's got great stuff. He made his debut in Miami, which is great. So Yankee Stadium is going to be a little bit difficult. However, I think he's going to be OK. He's kind of a cool customer. And I think he will enjoy the moment."
Colome will be filling the spot vacated by Alex Cobb, who suffered a concussion on Saturday when he was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of Kansas City's Eric Hosmer. Cobb is out indefinitely, so Colome could be in for an extended stay if he does well.
"There's a possibility, yes," Maddon said.
• Alex Cobb (concussion) is apparently feeling a little better, as he tweeted the following on Thursday: "Never thought I'd have so much fun doing arm exercises! Nice to finally leave the house... The rehab process has begun!"
• Class A Charlotte, the Rays' Florida State League affiliate, was rained out on Thursday night and will play two on Friday. Thus, David Price (strained left triceps), who will be making his first rehab start since going on the disabled list, will take the mound for the first game at Bradenton, Fla. The game will start at 5 p.m. ET.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.