ST. PETERSBURG - Nothing's cooking.
That's what Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said Thursday about the prospects for a trade at the moment.
But that could change in a hurry. Piniella said general manager Chuck LaMar has talked with at least eight clubs about a deal, but so far a trade is not imminent.
"(LaMar) has talked to a lot of clubs, that I can tell you, a lot of clubs," Piniella said. "But there isn't anything that excites us, nothing at all. But there have been a lot of conversations."
A popular rumor of late has been pitcher Joe Kennedy being involved in a three-way deal with the Dodgers and Braves that would bring Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada to Tampa Bay. Piniella, though, said such a deal has not been discussed.
"We wouldn't be interested anyway," Piniella said. "That's never even been discussed. I don't know where that came from."
Added Piniella: "We like our catching."
The nonwaiver trade deadline is July 31, and the Rays likely will get calls asking about starters Kennedy and Jeremi Gonzalez and reliever Al Levine as well as position players Ben Grieve and Travis Lee.
According to Piniella, though, the Rays don't have their finger on the trigger.
"(There has been) nothing that we would say we're foolish for not looking at." Piniella said. "And I know Chuck is not going to make a trade just to make a trade. It has got to help us."
MOVING ON: Shortstop Julio Lugo hopes he can concentrate on baseball for the rest of the season.
Lugo was acquitted Wednesday on charges of assault/family violence in Houston. The charges were brought after an incident involving his wife on April 30. Mabel Lugo, who is separated from the shortstop (they have filed for divorce), testified Tuesday that she instigated the incident, and the six-person jury acquitted Lugo after a three-day trial.
"I'm glad it's over," Lugo said. "I knew the truth would come out. ... I just want to put it behind me."
Lugo said awaiting the trial took his mind off baseball the past two months.
"It was hard because it was a situation you couldn't do anything about. You just have to wait to see what the decision is," Lugo said. "I feel good it's over with, and now I'm going to put this behind me and just play ball."
ROSTER MOVE: The Rays optioned left-handed reliever Bobby Seay to Triple-A Durham and called up lefty reliever Mark Malaska.
Malaska, 25, was the Rays' eighth-round pick in the 2000 draft. Between Double-A Orlando and Durham this season, Malaska was 2-2 with one save and a 3.19 ERA in 34 games.
Piniella said Malaska, who was a starter before this season, will be used mostly in situations, such as to retire one or two left-handed batters.
Malaska made his major-league debut Thursday, giving up a hit and a run with two walks in one inning.
Look for the Rays to call up more pitchers in the second half.
Malaska becomes the 44th player to play for the Rays this season and the 21st pitcher. The team record for players in a season is 52, and the mark for pitchers is 24.
ROTATION SET: Piniella has settled on a rotation to start the second half.
Kennedy started Thursday and Gonzalez will pitch tonight. Victor Zambrano, Jorge Sosa and Rob Bell fill out the staff. That means Jason Standridge will pitch in long relief.
MISCELLANY: In its current edition, Baseball America named Rays centerfielder Rocco Baldelli the first half's rookie of the year. ... Monday's game between the Rays and Angels will be broadcast by ESPN2 but will be blacked out locally.