Posted on: June 22, 2010 10:28 pm

Pirates stuck with Iwamura

Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Review-Tribune reports via Twitter that the Pirates, who designated second baseman Akinori Iwamura for assignment June 16, have been unable to trade him. Iwamura will report to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday.

It's no surprise given Iwamura's lack of production (.182 and nine RBI in 54 games) and salary -- he was the Pirates' highest-paid player this season at $4.85 million. The Pirates acquired him from Tampa Bay last winter.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 21, 2010 2:20 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2010 2:44 pm

Rays owner says team must search for new park

Stuart Sternberg Stuart Sternberg held a news conference Monday to announce that it's time for the Rays to explore ballpark options in the regional area of Tampa Bay, not just in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The Rays currently play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg under a lease that runs through 2027.

"Our ability to compete and, quite frankly, to survive rests on our ability to attract people and businesses to our ballpark," Sternberg said according to the Tampa Tribune . "Our customers are our fans. And like any other business, we need to be in a location that is convenient for our fans to reach us."

St. Petersburg mayer Bill Foster reacted to Sternberg's announcement by saying, "Like it or not, we are married and joined at the hip until 2027," the Tribune reports.

Despite recent efforts to spruce up the park and a winning baseball team, attendance remains among the lowest in baseball. Sternberg feels if the Rays hope to remain a viable franchise, either attendance must spike or a new park must be built.

"When I assumed control of the Rays almost five years ago, it was commonly assumed that winning would change everything at Tropicana Field," Sternberg added via MLB.com. "Everyone believed that with a winning team on the field, fans would fill the stands. That has not been the case."

Sternberg spoke about needing everyone to work together to begin a regional search for a park and, rising "above municipal interests," he noted. In March, an independent committe named the ABC Coalition recommended two sites in Tampa -- downtown and West Shore -- and one in the Pinellas county. Sternberg said that the team's own findings jived with the committee's recommendations, which also did not recommend downtown St. Petersburg and fairgrounds east of Tampa.

His comments directly violate the lease with St. Petersburg, as the contract stipulates the team may not directly or indirectly initiate or negotiate agreements for a new home.

"I expect a strong comment from the legal team of St. Petersburg," commented Alan Bomstein of the ABC Coalition.

Negotiations between St. Petersburg and the Rays collasped earlier in the year about a waterfront stadium being built in the city.

Geoffrey Rapp, a sports law expert at the University of Toledo, also weighed in, saying that cities and states outside of Florida may enter the scrum.

"There are a lot of cities that certainly think they can support a major-league team," Rapp said. "Now, knowing one is willing to move could be shark bait in the water for people to put together packages to attract that team."

There has been no indication so far that Sternberg is considering completely vacating the Tampa area.

Without discussion of a new park in the region, "the air of uncertainty over the future of Major League Baseball in the area will continue to linger," Sternberg said.

The Rays are currently 42-27, one game out of first place in the AL East behind the Yankees.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 20, 2010 5:40 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2010 6:25 pm

'Important announcement' due from Rays

The Rays told reporters after Sunday's game that principal owner Stuart Sternberg on Monday will make "an important announcement regarding the future of the Rays franchise." The team has called a news conference for 12:15 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Monday is an off day for the Rays.

Sounds ominous, doesn't it? Noah Pransky, a TV reporter in Tampa, said via Twitter that he was told by a source that the announcement will "have something to do with a stadium ... but won't be earth-shattering."

The Rays want a new stadium, but a 2008 proposal for a waterfront ballpark went nowhere.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Tags: Rays
Posted on: June 20, 2010 1:21 pm

The buzz in Florida

Vuvuzelas Perhaps the Marlins thought they were being trendy or cutting-edge. Or maybe they just weren't thinking at all. The result was a night the team and the visiting Rays don't want to think about ever again.

Visitors to Sun Life Stadium on Saturday received air horns, similar to the vuvuzela horns that have dominated the soundscape at the World Cup in South Africa. It was, to put it mildly, a disaster.

"It was awful, awful," Marlins outfielder Cody Ross told the St. Petersburg Times . "I can't tell you how awful it was."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said the horns should "absolutely" be banned by Major League Baseball.

"It's ridiculous the way they're annoying," Maddon said. "There's cool things and there's very non-cool things, and that's a non-cool thing. My apologies to South Africa and whatever goes on over there as a part of their culture. ... There are really good ideas and some aren't so good -- that one's not so good.''

The horns may have affected the outcome of the game, won 9-8 by the Rays in 11 innings. A miscommunication between Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez and home plate umpire Lance Barksdale, leading to Florida being tagged for batting out of order, cost the Marlins a big opportunity in the ninth inning.

"It was the most uncomfortable baseball game I've been a part of in a long time because of [the horns]," crew chief Tom Hallion said . "Whether that had anything to do with [the mixup], I don't know, but it could have. When's the last time you heard something like that at a baseball game? Never. You don't see this kind of stuff at baseball games."

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Tags: Marlins, Rays
Posted on: June 16, 2010 12:00 pm

Rays take it to the extreme

There's no word yet whether Joe Maddon will rock the mic like a rock a mic like a vandal, but word is Carlos Pena can light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle. Or something like that.

Either way, Vanilla Ice will perform a postgame concert following the Rays' July 9 game against the Indians at Tropicana Field. Vanilla Ice gets the call-up after Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin (ACL) was placed on the disabled list, nixing their July 10 date at the Trop.

The Rays are currently 22nd in average attendance, but if Vanilla Ice doesn't get the turnstiles humming, the team is planning that Los Lobos (July 30) and Tantric (June 25) will.

Word to your mother.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Tags: Rays, Vanilla Ice
Posted on: June 16, 2010 1:15 am

Who will Bartlett bump off Rays?

The good news: shortstop Jason Bartlett will rejoin the Rays in the next few days.

The bad news: The team isn't sure who will be bumped for the All-Star shortstop.

With three catchers on the team, the decision should be easy, but it never is.

"We have two really offensive catchers [John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach]," Maddon told the Tampa Tribube . "And you're playing in the National League, where pinch-hitting is really important. When you have three of them, there are more things you can do."

While the Rays will inevitably tell one of Jaso, Shoppach and Dioner Navarro to exit stage left, it sounds as if that's not an option until interleague play is complete.

The Tribune speculates that outfielder Justin Ruggiano may be cut instead. While the move would leave Tampa with just three outfielders, the depth of Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez makes Ruggiano an easy candidate to go. He has yet to register an at-bat this season after being called up to replace Gabe Kapler, who headed to the disabled list.

Looking ahead, when the team returns to American League play, the Rays may decide that Matt Joyce is a better option that Ruggiano once one of the three catchers departs. Joyce's average in Triple-A is up to .343 through play on Monday, and he is considered Tampa's right fielder of the future.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 12, 2010 3:49 pm

Rays ship out Kapler, recall Ruggiano

The Rays have placed outfielder Gabe Kapler on the disabled list with a right hip flexor strain and called up outfielder Justin Ruggiano from Triple-A Durham.

Kapler, 34, has had a rough season in Tampa Bay, batting just .217 with an on-base percentage of .305. Ruggiano batted .291 for Durham. The St. Petersburg Times says the new guy is expected to arrive in time for tonight's game against the Marlins.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
Posted on: June 11, 2010 9:29 am

Rays careful with Crawford

Rays left fielder Carl Crawford was idle (except for a pinch-running appearance) for the third time in four days on Thursday, but manager Joe Maddon told the Tampa Tribune it was just a chance to keep the four-time stolen base champ fresh.

Crawford has been struggling with hamstring soreness, especially on the artificial turf at Tropicana Field. With the Rays in first place, Maddon wants to make sure his three-time All-Star doesn't break down before a playoff run. The manager said he expects Crawford to play all three games at home against the Marlins.

"Then we move to grass for six in a row (at Atlanta and Florida), and that'll be a nice, refreshing attitude for his body," Maddon said.

-- David Andriesen

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
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