7/24/2014 12:33 A.M. ET
Rays aware of playoff positioning, trade talk
By Alex Halsted / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- As the non-waiver Trade Deadline fast approaches, there is no escaping the chatter and speculation for the Rays.
Tampa Bay holds the top pitching commodity in left-hander David Price, and with the Rays' recent play, they have a dilemma, too. After once sitting as many as 18 games below .500, the Rays have surged within five games of the mark and 5 1/2 games of an American League Wild Card spot entering Wednesday.
"To this point today, we've done as much as we possibly could to make the decision a little bit tougher," Evan Longoria said. "I hate speculating, I hate having to think about it or talk about what I think is going to happen. I totally believe that whatever the decision is, that [general manager] Andrew [Friedman] and the front office will have the best interest of the team going forward at heart."
The recent surge, combined with what has appeared to be a winnable AL East, has the Rays' intentions in a bind just eight days removed from the Trade Deadline.
The Rays may choose to sit still and not trade Price, but another option was proposed to manager Joe Maddon on Wednesday. Could the Rays, in six weeks time, have gone from sellers to buyers?
"I'm forced to say the same thing every year at this time. I like our names," Maddon said. "We have plenty to get this done with what we have on the field. I think sometimes people are fooled by that, having to go out and get somebody at the Trade Deadline in order to make them a contender. Sometimes you've got the answer from within."
Maddon rattled off additions the team could make, and none of them require looking on the open market. The team, while there are no true timetables, expects to get catcher Ryan Hanigan, outfielder David DeJesus and right fielder Wil Myers back from the disabled list by crunch time.
The Rays will begin a nine-game homestand Friday that will carry the team through the deadline. Price will start Friday for the Rays in St. Petersburg barring any sudden activity, but the next uniform he puts on remains uncertain.
"If they feel that keeping David here is the decision, then we'll understand that they kind of see and respect our efforts and really believe in this team making a playoff push," Longoria said. "If it's the other way around, then we look at it as business as usual and you can't give up."
Price and Longoria sat down for lunch Wednesday in St. Louis, the trade discussion still not escaping them.
"If he's gone, it's going to suck. That's the easy answer," Longoria said. "We ate lunch today and I don't want to put words in his mouth, but he was saying that if he had to pitch against us in the near future, that he would be an emotional wreck."
With a sudden push, Longoria and the Rays hope they have altered the mindset of the team's front office.
"It would be pretty surprising just because we're not 15 out," Longoria said. "I hope I don't have to talk about it anymore. I hope we can play the rest of the year with him and then a decision can be made after that."
Cobb notches first big league hit with RBI double
ST. LOUIS -- Rays starter Alex Cobb sent a fastball down the first-base line Wednesday and hustled into second base for his first Major League hit.
After going 0-for-7 in his first at-bats in the big leagues over the last two seasons, Cobb broke through against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn in the second inning at Busch Stadium. The double drove in the first run of the game, giving Cobb his first Major League RBI at the same time.
"The fortunate thing about being a pitcher is you know that you're going to get a fastball in the zone," Cobb said. "Especially facing a pitcher that had seven career at-bats at that time, probably not going to hurt you up there so you just throw a fastball in there. I was just swinging."
Cobb's hit proved to be the game-winner in a 3-0 Rays' victory over the Cardinals. He tossed seven scoreless innings on the mound, scattering five hits while striking out 10.
The right-hander had never had so much as a plate appearance in 118 games in the Minor Leagues, meaning Wednesday's hit marked the first of his professional career.
"This is the coolest thing I've done in my big league career, for sure," Cobb said. "I was kind of secretly hoping it was a 1-0 win."
Cobb's hit Wednesday night was the first MLB knock by a Cobb since Sept. 3, 1928 -- Ty's last hit.
Maddon sets rotation for Red Sox series
ST. LOUIS -- The Rays' rotation for their weekend series against Boston has been set.
Due to the All-Star break and an abundance of off-days, the weekend's starters had been uncertain until Rays manager Joe Maddon laid out the team's plan Wednesday in St. Louis.
After David Price starts Friday, the Rays will recall Jeremy Hellickson from Double-A Montgomery to make Saturday's start before Chris Archer starts the series finale Sunday.
Hellickson, who began the season on the disabled list due to right elbow surgery, made his season debut July 8 before being optioned to Double-A on July 13 to make additional starts while the Rays didn't need his services.
"Everything seemed to be good. We wanted to keep him rolling," Maddon said. "The awkward schedule permitted us to do it this way, also, coming out of the break. He's ready to roll."
Hellickson, who went 4 1/3 innings allowing one run in his lone Major League start this season, tossed 11 innings allowing three earned runs over the two starts since being optioned, last pitching Sunday.
Archer, meanwhile, will be pitching on six days of rest after pitching Sunday in Minnesota. The right-hander has a 3.31 ERA in 20 starts.
• Maddon said right fielder Wil Myers, who last played May 30 and has been on the disabled list with a slight stress fracture in his right wrist, remains on schedule to return sometime in mid-August.
• Outfielder David DeJesus (fractured left hand) and catcher Ryan Hanigan (left oblique strain) have no current timetables to return. Hanigan has recently hit off a tee and could begin rehab during the team's upcoming homestand.
• Thursday's off-day will mark the seventh day off for the Rays in a stretch of 15 days. Maddon said he has tried to view the extra layoffs as a positive.
"I thought it could also be beneficial if we did it right," Maddon said. "Going into August we'd like to be somewhat rested. You should be getting your second wind somewhat going into August. I've always been very mindful of not beating guys up before we get to that point."
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.