Hellickson on rehab progress, timetable for return

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeremy Hellickson will make a fifth rehab start for Triple-A Durham.

Hellickson (right elbow) gave up six runs (five earned) in five innings for Durham in his fourth rehab start Sunday night. Included in his line were a home run, eight hits and seven strikeouts.

Despite the numbers, Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Hellickson "pitched much better."

"Right now, I think the plan is to see how it goes," said Maddon, who noted that the decision is based on performance and the health of the right-hander. "The guy's coming off surgery, and he's kind of getting to the point now where he'd be like getting off Spring Training. So I think you have to understand, the guy hasn't pitched in a while. He's coming off surgery.

"He's kind of going through Spring Training. And we want him to be performing well before he comes here. Even if he needs a little longer than one more start, I don't think there's anything to be read into it, other than he needs more time to pitch at the level he's capable of. Pure and simple. If he's not ready, he's not ready, performance-wise. But health-wise, he seems to keep getting better."

Maddon said that one of two right-handers, Alex Colome or Nathan Karns, will be called upon to make one of the starts in Friday's doubleheader at Baltimore.

Escobar to sit out finale with sore shoulder

PIT@TB: Escobar makes the stop, starts a double play

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yunel Escobar left Tuesday night's game for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of the Rays' 6-5 loss to the Pirates due to a sore right shoulder.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said the shortstop irritated his shoulder earlier in the game when he made an awkward throw. He added that Escobar will not be in the lineup in the finale of the Rays' three-game series against the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon.

"Escobar is a little sore in his throwing shoulder," Maddon said.

Maddon explained that by having Escobar sit out Wednesday's game then having an off-day on Thursday, he should be able to be back in the lineup by Friday, when the Rays travel to Baltimore to play a doubleheader against the Orioles.

Escobar is hitting .244 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 77 games this season.

O'Conner, Romero to represent Rays at Futures Game

Top Prospects: Enny Romero, LHP, Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Justin O'Conner and Enny Romero will represent the Rays at this year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.

O'Conner catches for the Class A Charlotte Stone Crabs. He was drafted in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Through 55 games this season, he is hitting .257 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.

Romero gave Rays fans a glimpse of his electric left arm during the 2013 season -- he has a dominant fastball. He is 3-7 with a 5.35 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Durham this season. This will be his third appearance in the Futures Game.

Rosters for the Futures Game, which will be played on Sunday, July 13th, at Target Field, were announced by Major League Baseball on Tuesday afternoon on MLB Network's "The Rundown" and MLB.com.

The Futures Game, which is now in its 16th year, features the top Minor League prospects competing in a nine-inning contest as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday. The U.S. Team, which has won each of the last four contests, leads the all-time series against the World Team, 9-6. The game will begin at 5 p.m. ET and can be viewed live on MLB Network and MLB.com. Featured on MLB Network for the first time, the Futures Game will be called by Matt Vasgersian, Sean Casey and Heidi Watney, along with MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.

SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of Major League Baseball, will provide live play-by-play coverage on MLB Network Radio in addition to SiriusXM's other comprehensive live coverage from Minneapolis. The game will also be available to SiriusXM subscribers on the Internet Radio App for smart phones and mobile devices and online at SiriusXM.com. Taco Bell All-Star Sunday is the first of three days of All-Star events at Target Field, culminating with the 85th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 15th.

Major League Baseball, in conjunction with the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau, MLB.com, Baseball America and the 30 Major League clubs, selected the 25 players on each team. Each Major League organization is represented and players from all full-season Minor Leagues were eligible to participate. Complete Futures Game rosters, prospect analysis and rankings can be found at MLB.com/pipeline.

Trade rumors, uncertainty putting Price in 'bad mood'

HOU@TB: Price fans 12 over eight strong innings

ST. PETERSBURG -- David Price trade rumors are here to stay and will continue to grow until the left-hander is traded or until after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline passes.

"I'm still here," Price told reporters with a smile prior to Tuesday night's game.

The latest Price rumor comes from ESPN's Buster Olney; "rival officials" have told him that the Rays are ready to trade Price if the right deal comes along, but no deal is close now.

Olney wrote: "The expectation of rival officials is that sometime in the days ahead, some team is going to call Rays GM Andrew Friedman with the right offer, with enough pitching included to fill Tampa Bay's organizational need."

Price has pitched well lately. In particular, his fastball has been hovering around 95 mph and his control has been impeccable. He leads the American League in strikeouts (133) and home runs given up (16).

Price, whom the Rays drafted with the first pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, likes playing for the Rays and would prefer to remain with the team. So he sounded honest when he admitted that the prospect of being traded is on his mind.

"I mean, obviously I think about it," Price said. "That's why I've been in a bad mood the last week and a half. I think about it. You guys know that. And it's nothing I really want to talk about. I don't have an answer for you guys. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know when I'm going. So there's nothing I can really comment on."

Rays manager Joe Maddon noted that "there's nothing I can say that is going to make him feel better, I doubt that."

"He needs to feel my support all the time, and I hope he does. Beyond all that, part of this is it's a business, and sometimes when you get caught up in the business component, it makes it uncomfortable," said Maddon, who noted that Price's performance this season "has been great."

"Mood-wise, again, I've never been traded, so I don't know what that would feel like," Maddon said. "I don't know what your name feels like being involved in trade rumors during seasons and all that good stuff. I think part of it's complimentary. Part of it is disconcerting. I think a guy like him has been through a lot of different moments and always has been able to handle them."

Olney speculated that the Giants, Dodgers and Cardinals are possible suitors for Price. Recent rumors about Price have also included the Blue Jays, Braves and Marlins.