It's getting closer to July, which means trade talks are about to get heated for many teams in contention. But if the last few years are any indication, the Rays won't be too involved in those.
In St. Petersburg, front-office executives instead turn to the Minor Leagues, where they've been stockpiling young, fruitful arms that seem to blossom this time of season.
On Saturday, Tampa Bay will show off another one of its talented youngsters, as 24-year-old flamethrower Alex Colome is summoned to make his second career Major League start as the Rays take on the Yankees in New York.
"The most impressive thing [about Colome] is the overall package," said Joe Maddon. "This guy has really, really good stuff."
Colome, the Rays' 12th-ranked prospect, has a plus fastball that gets up to 97 mph and shows some sink, which has allowed him to produce ground balls. But his secondary pitches are what earned him the call this time, after striking out 72 batters in 70 1/3 innings while posting a 3.07 ERA in Triple-A Durham.
"The other pitches have gotten better," Maddon said. "And the fact, over the last year I guess, it's been primarily that he's starting to miss more bats. There was a time when he would throw with his high velocity and not miss bats. But now he is.
"So it's a combination. He's maintained his velocity with better command. And now he's adding other pitches that effectively miss bats in the strike zone. And that's the exciting part."
Colome is taking the starting spot of Alex Cobb, who was hit in the head by a pitch and is out for an indefinite amount of time, leaving Colome as a potential long-term replacement.
His opponent Saturday has thrown more shutouts (12) than Colome has thrown innings (5 2/3) at the Major League level.
CC Sabathia always poses the threat to go the complete nine, as he's done once already this season and almost did his last time out, when he held the Angels to just two runs over eight innings.
Sabathia, who has a 3.93 ERA over 103 innings this season, is on pace to surpass the 200-inning mark for the seventh straight season. He's one of just five pitchers to have thrown 200 innings each of the last six seasons, joining Justin Verlander, James Shields, Matt Cain and Mark Buehrle.
Rays: Price makes big first step
Reigning American League Cy Young winner David Price made his first rehab start Friday as he begins to work back from a triceps injury that's kept him out of action since May 15.
Pitching at Class A Bradenton, Price threw 49 pitches, 29 for strikes, as he allowed two runs on two hits.
"I felt good," Price said. "I definitely felt like I had more in the tank that I could've used."
He should make at least one more rehab start, possibly two, before returning to the Rays' rotation at some point before the All-Star break.
Yankees: Rookie sensation dazzles
Zoilo Almonte might be seeing a lot more of the left-field grass at Yankee Stadium over the upcoming days. In his first Major League start on Friday, the 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republic made a sparkling impression, going 3-for-4 with a game-sealing home run in the sixth inning.
Almonte has shown power and speed through eight seasons in the Minor Leagues, but got himself noticed this year after hitting .297 with a .369 on-base percentage and a .789 OPS in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"He might have some butterflies, but once he gets out there, he'll realize it's just like playing anywhere else," manager Joe Girardi said.
Girardi said he'll handle Almonte's playing time on a day-to-day basis, though with a strong opening game paired with continued struggles by Vernon Wells -- who is hitting .178 since April ended -- there could be an opportunity for Almonte.
• Friday marked another errorless night for the sturdy Rays' defense, which has made only 10 errors in its last 29 games and did not have a multi-error game during that span. The streak of 29 straight games without a multi-error game is the longest current stretch in the Major Leagues.
• Rays rookie Wil Myers was 1-for-4 Friday and has one hit in each of his last four games after going hitless in his Major League debut. Myers is 4-for-21 since joining the club on Tuesday.
• The Yankees will recall Ivan Nova to start on Sunday. He was scratched from a start with Triple-A Scranton and is stretched out to get the call in the series finale with the Rays.