ST. PETERSBURG — Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said before Monday’s game against the Rangers that you can slice the Rays’ season into sections and each would tell a different story.
He is confident these final two weeks will tell the story of how the Rays clinched a playoff spot.
“I think you can break up the season into different chunks and in certain chunks we’ve played like one of the best teams in baseball, and for other chunks we’ve played like a really, really good team, and this most recent chunk we haven’t played very well,” Friedman said.
“I’m a firm believer in the talent level of this team and the depth that we have and the different areas of strength. I feel like we can be an extremely dangerous team in October. Now we’ve got a laser-like focus on these next (13) games and getting in, and once we accomplish that we’ll focus on the bigger goal, and I believe very much in the talent that we have in that room.”
Friedman said he isn’t concerned with RHP Joel Peralta. He agreed with manager Joe Maddon’s assessment after Sunday’s loss that Peralta’s velocity is good, he just missed his location with a pair of change-ups.
“We’re able, for the most part, to control what happens,” he said. “That is a really good thing. That’s a good position to be in. If the talent rises to the top like we’re expecting, well be fine.”
Crain’s big day
RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) threw 30 pitches before Monday’s game when he faced hitters for the first time since being placed on the disabled list in June while a member of the White Sox.
Crain said it was better than what he expected.
“I’d give myself an A grade,” he said after facing Sam Fuld, Chris Gimenez and DH Luke Scott.
“It looked pretty similar to what I remember seeing either from the batter’s box or from the bench,” Fuld said.
How Crain feels today will determine the next step. If the shoulder feels good, he could join the bullpen later in the week. Crain said he thinks despite the layoff and the lack of minor-league rehab games he can handle the stress of facing major-league hitters.
“Obviously I’m not totally 100 percent of where I was, but I’d give it a good 90 percent,” he said. “Stuff will come. It’s been a good two-and-a-half months since I was out there on a mound facing hitters. My mechanics were good. The ball was coming out of my hand good. The command will come the more times I’m out there.”
About those call-ups
The Rays are still mulling whether to add a few players from Triple-A Durham for this stretch run.
INF Tim Beckham, RHP Jake Odorizzi and LHP Jeff Beliveau could be added to the roster this week. The decision will come down to how much each could add to the team.
Maddon said it was a coincidence that some players worked on bunting before batting practice on the day former Ray Matt Garza pitched. Garza has had issues with bunts in the past.
“We’ve not been the best bunting team. We need to bunt a little bit better going down the stretch,” Maddon said. “This was a planned exercise, regardless.”
CF David DeJesus dropped down a sacrifice bunt in the third inning.
DH Matt Joyce was 1-for-30 in September before his fourth-inning single. ... Two members of the famed Rockettes threw out the first pitch before Monday’s game. Holly Sonders of the Golf Channel put a baseball on a golf tee and chipped the ball to LHP Alex Torres for her ceremonial first pitch. ... The Rays, Rangers and Indians were all within a half-game of the wild-card lead entering Monday’s game. According to Elias, the last time three teams were this close to the wild-card lead this late in the season was in 2005 when the Marlins, Astros and Phillies were separated by a half-game.