Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg addressed the media, including the Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney, at the team's Spring Training facility. When asked about his expectations for 2013, Sternberg acknowledged the folly of such an exercise, "Unfortunately, last year we felt incredible about the team, and the last time we felt that way was coming into ’09, and they were the only two years we didn’t make the playoffs." Mooney provides excerpts of the other topics covered this morning:
- Sternberg says David Price "is an enormous part of this organization" and there's no question the franchise can handle a contract like his, but it is way too early to be focused on what could happen three or four years down the road.
- Sternberg denies the front office has contemplated trading Price. "We haven’t had those thoughts. Others have speculated. There’s been speculation but we haven’t had those thoughts at all."
- Sternberg is optimistic about his negotiations for a new stadium, but says nobody wants to hear him talking about stadium things so he will focus on baseball.
- The team's payroll in 2013 will be above $60MM which is more than Sternberg had said it should be based on the team's attendance. "We’ve had a couple of years where it was lower than it should be, and we’ve had a number of years when it was higher than it should be, and this is one of those years."
- Sternberg refuses to set any attendance goals this year after finishing last in MLB in that category in 2012. "We want to be average in attendance and well above average in on-field performance. We’re right now settling for well-above average on on-field performance, and that’s the important thing." Sternberg made his remarks hours before Tampa Bay's game with the Red Sox, which drew the Rays' largest home crowd of the spring and was their first sellout.