The Rays Tank: Sternberg talks Price; Rays lose, USA wins

USA TODAY Sports

Moore struggles with control, Torre struggles with managing, and Sternberg gets vocal.

The Rays had their first sell-out of the year in Port Charlotte, the second day in a row the Rays have been featured in a sell-out game this spring, having set an attendance record in Clearwater on Saturday against the Phillies.

Rays principle owner Stu Sternberg was in attendance with plenty to share with reporters. He claims there has been "no thoughts" although "some speculation" in the front office that David Price could be traded, and claimed it was "absolutely" possible to sign the Cy Young winner to a long term extension. The rhetoric has taken hold this morning, with features from the Times, the Tribune, and mlb.com.

Price responded cordially. "Like I've said before ... I could spend my whole career here," Price said. "I feel at home with this organization." Of course, he didn't stop there. "I do know what the going rate for starting pitching is these days. I don't want to sell myself short."

As famously noted by Sternfan, there has been speculation that the back-loaded $6M on Price's $10.1M contract this season is an indication that the front office plans on dealing Price this winter. With the rise of Chris Archer and pending rise of Jake Odorizzi, this still seems to be the likely course.

Sternberg commented on the stadium issue saying, 'The mayor and I had a meeting, a nice cordial conversation and we'll see. I'm optimistic." It was the first time the front office had addressed the private meeting held between Sternberg and Mayor Foster since the City Council failed to pass a measure that would have allowed the Rays to explore stadium sites outside Pinellas county.

"Things go in cycles," Sternberg said, shifting the discussion to the Tampa Bay economy. "We talked about it a little bit over the years, referred to it. And clearly, I won't say the worst is all behind us because you never know what's ahead of you, but the economy in general around the country -- and it feels like in the area -- it bottomed out and it's improving."

"We just saw some numbers on Friday; employment is coming back," Sternberg continued. "Obviously, that doesn't do any good for people who are unemployed, but it does give a little bit of a glimmer that things are getting better. The things that the government has done have obviously been working so far, a little bit, and we hope to improve on it."

The owner took a parting shot at the Rays attendance woes, saying a payroll north of $60M is, "higher than it ought to be," but expressed his usual confidence in the local fan base, and encouraged fans to see what the Rays can be this season.

***

On the afternoon, the Rays lost to the Red Sox 6-2. Matt Moore recovered from his last rocky spring start to pitch three solid innings, but then lost his form in the fourth. Command slipped away from Moore, as he walked a batter and later gave up a homerun to Boston's new catcher David Ross.

Only five Rays players notched a hit yesterday, including Sean Rodriguez who played a full nine innings in center field with suitable defense.

Visually, Yunel Escobar also had an excellent day on the field, with a strong arm from short stop and great range. He was credited with one throwing error that allowed Pedro Ciriaco to reach base, but he also had the anticipation to nab him running between first and second on a pick off play moments later. During an interview on the televised braodcast, Rays GM Andrew Friedman told Todd Kalas this year's infield is the best the Rays have ever had. Take that as you will.

In better news, Team USA avoided elimination against the Fighting Canadians, coming back from a 3-2 deficit in the eighth that may or may not have been avoided if Adam Jones had not been told to bunt earlier in the game with two men on and no outs... just saying.

Brandon Phillips got frustrated before USA's rally, telling ESPN: "Somebody's got to step up, because I'm not ready to go back to Goodyear, because there's nothing in Goodyear. I would rather go to Miami. You know what I'm saying?"

Luckily, after a Ben Zobrist bunt-attempt that popped out to the catcher -- again with two men on -- Joe Torre let Adam Jones swing, plating two runners and giving Team USA a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Canada loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth (twice, actually), but to no avail.

Zorilla was 3-for-5 on the night with one assist from right field.

LINKS

- Marc Topkin ran a feature on Jim Hickey and communication skills this morning.

- Needless to say, Joe Torre is drawing ire from just about everybody. Here's a list of his questionable moves from Sunday.

- Jeff Sullivan discusses the not-yet-created defensive statistic from SABR that will be influencing the gold glove vote.

- Fangraphs posted their Top 100 prospects, with Wil Myers ranked 4th, Chris Archer at 27, Hak-Ju Lee at 37, Guerrieri at 40, Colome at 85, and Odorizzi at 86. The Rays tied St. Louis and Minnesota for the most prospects on the list with six apiece.

- Jason Collette is back in the saddle, examining Alex Cobb's recent use of a cutter. Our Robbie Knopf wrote on the same topic last week for Rays Colored Glasses.

- The Hardball Times posted their Five Question for the Tampa Bay Rays this morning, wondering how the team will replace Shields and Upton, and about the future performance of Myers, Rodney, and the AL East.

- Finally, Rays Revolution has a new podcast up, featuring their thoughts and concerns for the division.

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