BOSTON -- Stuart Sternberg, the Rays' principal owner, took a moment on Tuesday to address Commissioner Bud Selig's comments last week on the team's stadium and attendance issues at Tropicana Field.
Selig noted during the All-Star break in New York on Tuesday that the Rays' issues are "economically not tolerable" and "beyond disappointing."
"Bud was very pointed. I believe he's spoken in years past about the disappointment and concern," Sternberg said. "The verbiage within baseball, which I probably first brought public a bit in Spring Training a year and change ago -- not this past spring, the year before -- there was talk back then and it's been ratcheted up dramatically. There's pressure coming from other owners as well, who are not pleased with the situation and the money that they are sharing with us and the extent of it."
Selig noted that Tampa Bay's attendance issues are particularly problematic considering the club has won at least 90 games in four of the past five seasons. The Rays are 59-41 this year, second in the American League East entering Tuesday's action, but their average attendance falls below the league average of 30,226.
"Look at a club in the Major Leagues that's competitive and is averaging 18,000 people a game. That may have been OK in 1956. It's not OK today," Selig said. "Your fans want you to be competitive. Well, they ought to have the economic tools or the economic mechanisms to be competitive. You can't say they've run a poor franchise. They've run an extraordinary franchise. Every year they lose a lot of players, and they just keep on going.
"The question is what to do about it, and where and when."
Sternberg was asked if the recent dialogue has led to a timetable for when the issue needs to come to a head.
"There's no secret that the Mayor [of St. Petersburg] and I have had a number of conversations over a lengthy period of time," Sternberg said. "And I would like to believe that that is going to bear some fruit and put this franchise on great footing for years to come."
Moore's shutout of Sox has some historic significance
BOSTON -- Upon further review, Matt Moore's two-hit shutout of the Red Sox on Monday night had added significance.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Moore's was only the 66th shutout by a left-hander against the Red Sox at Fenway in the park's 102-year history, and only the second over the last 17 years. Oakland's Brett Anderson threw the other, on July 6, 2009.
What makes it so hard for a left-hander to toss a shutout at Fenway Park? The question was posed to staff ace -- and fellow left-hander -- David Price, who will take the mound at the historic stadium on Wednesday.
"This park plays a lot bigger for a left-handed hitter than a right-handed hitter, so whenever a lefty is on the mound, you're going to have at least seven guys in that lineup who are right-handed," Price said. "It definitely heightens your awareness. You have to make good pitches, especially when righties are up and guys that have pop and the ability to pull the ball with some power. It makes you focus a little bit more."
Moore weighs in on Braun's suspension
BOSTON -- Team union rep Matt Moore was asked about Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension, which was announced on Monday.
Braun was suspended for the rest of the season without pay for violating the Joint Drug Agreement. He admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, though he did not give any specifics.
Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone following the 2011 season but successfully appealed the suspension and later claimed that he had done nothing wrong.
"I think the most irritating part with the whole thing, after the failed test, from everybody's understanding, that was supposed to be the truth with what he was saying," Moore said. "Turns out it was far from it. And I think that's the most irritating and disrespectful part, that everybody was lied to.
"If this had been one of those situations where a guy gets caught and he hadn't told us he was doing it, it's a little different. But under the circumstances right now, while it's a step in the right direction, it's a shadow on the game that we are definitely trying to get rid of. It's good for solving the problem, but it's bad for the game also, it puts it in a bad light."
Minor League catcher Thomas suspended
BOSTON -- The Commissioner's Office announced on Tuesday that Minor League catcher Mark Thomas has received a 50-game suspension without pay after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse.
The suspension of Thomas, who is on the roster of the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League, is effective immediately.
Thomas was hitting .151 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.
• Right-hander Alex Cobb had a setback on Tuesday night in his first rehab start for Class A Charlotte, as he had to leave after two pitches because of a blister on his right index finger.
Cobb, who was struck by a line drive on June 15, had been progressing nicely during his rehab stint to the point where manager Joe Maddon noted last week that he might be able to return to the team after pitching on Tuesday and then making one more start.
It has not yet been determined how this setback will affect Cobb's return.
• The Rays have announced $2 Kids Night on July 31, when they take on the D-backs.
With the purchase of one full-price ticket to the 7:10 p.m. ET game, fans can get up to three tickets for kids 2 to 14 for just $2 each. On July 31, any remaining tickets will be available for purchase at the Tropicana Field Box Office.
The offer applies in the Lower Reserved, Press Level Reserved, Baseline Box, Upper Reserved and tbt* Party Deck sections; supplies are limited.
This game will also feature free parking for cars carrying four or more passengers. For more information, visit raysbaseball.com or call 888-FAN-RAYS.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.