ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays entered this weekend series with the visiting Blue Jays knowing wins will help enhance their positioning in the AL East while losses could push management closer to trading LHP David Price.
Price, who makes his final start of the first half today, said he hopes his teammates are not caught up in the trade rumors that include his name.
“I’m definitely not immune to it,” Price said. “It’s something I try not to think about, and I try not talk about it with my teammates. That’s the last thing I want them to be doing, is thinking about if we don’t win I could be gone. I don’t want (3B Evan Longoria) to go to the plate thinking he needs to do something special to keep me a Ray. I want everybody to go out and continue to play baseball the way we have over the past three weeks, and hopefully things will kind of work themselves out.”
RHP Alex Cobb said this week that it is hard not to think about what might happen if the Rays stumble into the break.
“Absolutely. I think we understand that,” Cobb said. “It’s hard to say if the situation with David impacts anyone’s performance on the field. I think the only person it would impact is David, because once you’re out there, you’re a professional, you’re trying to win the ballgame every night no matter what the circumstances.”
Cobb has watched Price talk to the media the day before each of his past few starts and is impressed with how Price handles questions about the trade rumors.
“It’s definitely in the back of our minds, and just watching David handle this situation, it’s been real surprising he can continue to be the leader that he is and be the good teammate everyone expects him to be even with all this swirling around him,” Cobb said. “It’s been awesome to see.”
Myers gets cast off
RF Wil Myers, who fractured his right wrist May 31 in Boston, had the cast removed Friday. Myers will begin a rehab program to strengthen the wrist before he can resume baseball activities. He is not expected to return to the team until late August.
“I can’t really move it too much,” Myers said. “It’s so tight, my muscle are so tight. They haven’t been moved in six weeks.”
Escobar rejoins team; McGee on leave
SS Yunel Escobar (sore right shoulder) returned from the disabled list and claimed the roster spot vacated by LHP Jake McGee, who was placed on the paternity list after wife Morgan gave birth Thursday to their first child, a girl they named Rowen Beth.
“I’m happy to be back and happy to be able to help the team,” Escobar said.
McGee can miss three days, but manager Joe Maddon said McGee could return during this series.
So who sits?
With Escobar back, Maddon went with Logan Forsythe at second base and moved Ben Zobrist to right field Friday against LHP Mark Buehrle. Maddon said he would have played RF Kevin Kiermaier had a fly-ball pitcher such as RHP Jake Odorizzi been starting for the Rays.
Still, Kiermaier or Forsythe will have to sit now that Escobar is back.
“I’m a planner, but a lot of times this game has a cruel way of deciding things for you on its own,” Maddon said. “So right now you’ll see a little bit of platooning going on, matchups, but I’m not 100 percent sure.”
Kiermaier found his way into the lineup when CF Desmond Jennings left after fouling a ball off the inside of his left knee. X-rays of Jennings’ knee were negative.
C Ryan Hanigan was scratched from the lineup with sore left side. ... Maddon said OF Jerry Sands will have season-ending surgery on a strained tendon in his left wrist. ... Maddon’s Thanksmas in July drew more than 250 volunteers as Maddon and his Thanksmas staff served dinner at the Trinity Cafe in Tampa as well as Salvation Army shelters in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton. “The point for us was at this time of year to raise the level of awareness of volunteerism,” Maddon said.