ST. PETERSBURG — Andrew Friedman is just as baffled as everyone else about why the team he assembled has the worst record in baseball.
“It's obviously been a bizarre season in a lot of different ways. There's been a lot of oddities and inconsistency,” the Tampa Bay Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations said before Wednesday's game.
Friedman said he knows they face a daunting challenge to get back in the playoff hunt. They entered Wednesday's game 13 games under .500, so it will be a challenge just to get back to .500.
“I still very much believe in the core talent of this group, and so our approach is a simple one: Collectively, as a group, do everything we can to put ourselves in position to win games. Whether that is enough to get us to where we want to be, we don't know right now,” Friedman said. “But we're not going to focus as much on, 'What do we look like in September?' as much as 'Let's get through today.' ”
When asked if he's at the point where he's contemplating trades to either bring in talent or start selling, Friedman said, “Not at all. If we didn't believe in the talent level of this group, we'd have a different mindset, probably. But we do. What that ends up meaning, we don't know the answer. Nor is it important to get too far ahead of ourselves right now. It's much more about doing everything we can to win series, to win games. That's going to be the focus.”
Price fined, and Ortiz takes credit
LHP David Price drew a fine and some more words from Red Sox DH David Ortiz.
Price was fined an undisclosed amount Wednesday for throwing at Ortiz during the first inning of the Rays-Red Sox game Friday in Boston.
Ortiz, who has been ripping Price in the media every chance he gets since that night, said Tuesday that Price deserved to be suspended for his actions.
Ortiz was upset that Red Sox RHP Brandon Workman was suspended six games for throwing behind 3B Evan Longoria in the sixth inning of that game.
“They fined him after what I said (Tuesday),” Ortiz told ESPN.
Hellickson ready to rehab
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right elbow surgery) will begin his minor-league rehab assignment Saturday for Single-A Charlotte. Hellickson will face the Tampa Yankees in Tampa.
Hellickson, who is scheduled to pitch four innings/60 pitches, said he needs three rehab starts before he rejoins the Rays. That will have him in line to pitch in the doubleheader June 27 in Baltimore. Hellickson said he's throwing all his pitches with ease and that his elbow feels much better than it did at any point last season.
“It wasn't so much pain. I was just tight and kind of wedged in there, just not a lot of mobility. I couldn't extend like I wanted,” he said. “I feel great.”
Draft day is here
The Rays will pick at No. 20, No. 60 and No. 72 tonight during the first two rounds of the baseball draft.
“We have some ideas about what might be there,” Rays scouting director R.J. Harrison said. “But it's so unpredictable, and our experience has been the past couple of years that the best thing you can do is just be prepared as well as you can and react when the time comes. The true thing is that we're trying to get the best players we can every year.
“But it's baseball. There's still scouting. It's still getting out there and being as thorough as we can. And we always continue to do that. We try to evolve each year and stay current as well.”
The recently concluded 0-8 road trip was the worst in club history. The previous worst was an 0-7 in 2006 through Anaheim and Minnesota. The Rays have also lost 10 straight road games while being outscored 52-19. It's the third-longest road losing streak in team history. The Rays lost 13 straight in 2002 and 12 in 2006.