INSIDE PITCH: 8/15
As Wednesday night's midnight deadline to sign No. 1 overall draft pick David Price nears, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays remain confident they will be able to sign the Vanderbilt left-hander.
On Tuesday, the Tigers dished out a four-year $7,285,000 major league contract to New Jersey high schooler Rick Porcello, whose slid to the 27th pick because teams were scared they wouldn't be able to sign the Scott Boras client. The contract is the largest given to a high school player by the team that drafted him.
With so many first-round picks remaining unsigned heading into the final 24 hours -- 11 of the 30 first-rounders hadn't signed a deal as of Tuesday, including the draft's first, second, third and fifth overall selections -- one would believe Porcello's deal would raise the price for the top picks.
"Both sides are continuing to work very hard on an agreement before the deadline," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said Tuesday. "We remain optimistic that we will complete a deal, and we hope to have good news to report tomorrow."
But it is believed the Rays don't think it will affect their negotiations much. Price is reportedly seeking between $7 million and $10 million. Meanwhile, MLB -- trying to keep contracts down -- reportedly is suggesting deals in the $4 million range.
An e-mail to Price's adviser, Bo McKinnis, went unanswered Tuesday evening.
If the Rays can't sign Price, they would receive a compensation pick -- No. 2 overall -- in next year's draft, according to new MLB rules.
RED SOX 2, DEVIL RAYS 1: Rays closer Al Reyes, given his first save opportunity in 47 games, blew his second save chance of the season, allowing a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Reyes allowed a one-out homer to Mike Lowell, then gave up a run-scoring single to Coco Crisp that scored Jason Varitek, who hit a two-out ground-rule double.
Rays starter Scott Kazmir threw six shutout innings and allowed just four hits. Kazmir is 5-5 with a 2.37 ERA in 14 career appearances against the Red Sox. He is 4-1 with a 1.01 ERA since the All-Star break.
--The hits still aren't coming for 1B Carlos Pena, who is 3-for-32 with 12 strikeouts on the road trip, but Pena said he believes he's about to rebound.
"You can't try to reinvent the wheel," Pena said. "It's all a matter of getting out there, seeing the ball and trusting in your ability. Simplicity is where success lies in this game. Instead of thinking I've got to get a hit, it's about how I feel and how I see it. You almost have to be (inhuman) in that regard. You cannot let your emotions get the best of you. You have to be cold when it comes to your approach."
Pena, who is hitting .170 (16-for-94) since July 19 and has gone a season-long 10 games without a homer, walked three times Friday in Texas and has hit some hard lineouts. He hit deep flyballs in his first two plate appearances Tuesday, including a fourth-inning sacrifice fly to center.
--RHP Andy Sonnanstine's 1-8 overall record, and his 13.50 ERA over his past two outings don't concern manager Joe Maddon.
"He's had more trouble with his breaking ball in regard to hanging them and not getting them where he wants," Maddon said. "If you really watch him pitch, his fastball doesn't get hit as much."
The losses have piled up for Sonnanstine, who hasn't won a game since his second big-league start June 10, but Maddon said he believes the 24-year-old can regroup at the big-league level because of his track record of success in the minors.
"I think he can get it done here," Maddon said. "To have your first real challenge be at the major league level, it makes it a little more difficult to straighten yourself out. I think he's got very good makeup, and because of that I think he'll be able to work throw it."
--LF Carl Crawford has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games, and he is batting .492 in that stretch. He has five doubles, a triple, four homers, eight RBIs, 17 runs and six steals in the 15 games.
--The Rays will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla., on Monday at 11 a.m. The Rays will relocate their spring training site from St. Petersburg to Port Charlotte in 2009, playing at a renovated Charlotte Sports Park, which was damaged by a hurricane in 2004.
--With two hits Tuesday, Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia is 5-for-9 against LHP Scott Kazmir.
BY THE NUMBERS: 61 -- Career homers by Carl Crawford (through Aug. 10), good enough to move him into third place on the Rays' all-time home-run list.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Molten. Magma. What is there?" -- Manager Joe Maddon, trying to describe how far past red-hot Carl Crawford has been of late.