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Thursday, Jul 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays notes: All quiet as deadline passes

SEATTLE - Tampa Bay Rays CF B.J. Upton stopped what he was doing Sunday afternoon, which was playing catch on the field with 3B Evan Longoria before the game, and watched the Safeco Field clock reach 1 p.m., which on the West Coast was the deadline for non-waiver trades. Upton, still in uniform, still in the lineup, raised his hands over his head and yelled, "Word. I'm still here." They all were, RHP James Shields, RHP Jeff Niemann, RHP Wade Davis, DH Johnny Damon and anyone else mentioned in the slew of trade rumors the past two weeks. "I'm just glad it's over with," Upton said. "That's probably the most nerve-wracking two weeks I ever had. I've always said I want to be here. I grew up playing with these guys, a lot of good guys on this team, a good organization, so I'm just glad it's over with. We can move forward and continue to try to win ballgames."
The deadline came and went and Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who spent the last hours in a hospital bed after having an emergency appendectomy Saturday afternoon at St. Anthony's Hospital, decided keeping his players was better than trading for what was being offered. "We had numerous conversations with many different organizations leading up to the deadline, but none came to fruition. We will continue to be opportunistic in our approach after the deadline as before it," Friedman said in a statement released by the team. That members of Friedman's baseball ops crew joined him in his hospital room during the final hours before the deadline didn't surprise manager Joe Maddon. "I think he actually works those when he's asleep," Maddon said. "That happens all the time. This isn't a big trick for him." Said team president Matt Silverman: "He is an unstoppable force." Upton was the Ray mentioned most in the trade rumors. His $4.825 million contract for this season will go up next year into the $7 million neighborhood as he makes his final pass through arbitration. Friedman, though, is not in a hurry to shed Upton's salary, especially since he prefers making trades in the offseason when the market expands to more than the handful of teams still in the playoff hunt. That was fine with Upton, who said the rumors bothered him a bit more than he let on. "Definitely a little bit tougher than I thought it would be," he said. "You wake up and that's the first thing you see is trade talks, and obviously I was in them. Come to the field and that's all you see all over the place, (reporters) ask me the same thing every day, so yeah, it was definitely tough. I'm glad it's over." Shields was mentioned in rumors, though the speculation he would move died pretty quick. Still, he was glad when the deadline passed. "I know the business. I've been around for a little while," he said. "I didn't want to leave, that's for sure. I still think we got a shot at making the playoffs if we keep winning games like we did (Sunday)." The Rays, like all the other teams, will place all or nearly all of the players through waivers this week. Those who clear can be traded, so expect more rumors to surface as the contending teams near the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. Mr. RBI Despite a .231 batting average and a .187 batting average on the trip, Longoria continues to be the Rays' most productive run producer. His 40 RBIs since June 11 are the most in the majors. Day off for Johnny Not seeing Damon's name in Sunday's lineup might have caused some to think he was about to get traded, but Maddon said it was a scheduled day off for Damon, who has hit safely in 13 of his past 16 games. With today's off day, Maddon wanted to give Damon two consecutive days off. "Getting him nice and toasty for the homestand," Maddon said. Noteworthy RHP Jeremy Hellickson did not allow a home run during Sunday's win for the first time in seven starts. … While Hellickson and Rolando Arrojo are the only Rays rookies to win 10 games by the end of July, Hellickson is the third fastest rookie to 10 wins in number of team games. Niemann won his 10th on Aug. 1, 2009, in the Rays' 104th game of the season. Sunday was the Rays' 107th game of the year. … The Rays begin their longest homestand of the season Tuesday, 10 games against the Blue Jays, A's and Royals.
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