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Notes: Gomes gets day off Saturday

Notes: Gomes gets day off Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mired in a 1-for-30 slump, Jonny Gomes found himself out of the lineup Saturday night.

"I just wanted to give [Gomes] a day off," Maddon said. "We were trying to move him around [in the lineup]. But he's just totally pressing. I really needed to give Russ [Russell Branyan] a game. So I thought it was a good day to just back off him, get Russ in there, and [Greg Norton has been] swinging the bat well, so I wanted to keep him there. So, I just thought it was the right thing to do today."

Gomes remained positive in light of his struggles.

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"I'm still staying positive," Gomes said. "I keep telling myself, 'You're only a double away.' So I tell myself, 'You're only a double away from coming out. Once you get that, then you get a little swagger.' And you start believing in yourself and your swing. You're right back in there. I know I can do it. I've hit in the big leagues. I've hit in the Minor Leagues. I've hit in high school. [I] just have to get back to it."

Gomes said the biggest difference has been expanding his strike zone.

"I don't think pitchers are doing anything different than I've seen at the big-league level or the Minor League level," Gomes said. "Strikes are strikes and balls are balls. I just have to get back to being myself and being disciplined."

Despite struggling, Gomes has not tinkered with his mechanics.

"I mean, I don't think there's anything wrong with my swing right now," Gomes said. "It's more the mental part and my approach. I talked to Fred McGriff when he was here a while, he goes, 'You've got to stick with what got you here.'"

Gomes has not tried any odd remedies, either.

"When you're struggling, people do the bat dance," Gomes said. "[I] just grab a different bat. [I] go from a big barrel to a small barrel. ... It's never the bat. It's always you and your head. I've still stuck with my bat, but I've been breaking them lately. I had to go to a different model just because I'm running out. I haven't done the bat dance or the batting stance, a different stance. [I'm] just sticking with what I've got."

While sticking to his guns by not changing, the slump can't escape Gomes' mind.

"It's definitely on my mind," Gomes said. "I try to keep the field at the field, but you definitely go home and think about your at-bats. [You] think about how they could be better, if you're different in your approach or what not. But I kind of keep all my baseball stuff here."

Trade deadline looms: Major League Baseball's trade deadline will come July 31, and the Rays are one of the teams where contenders look to shop. Andrew Friedman, the Rays' vice president of baseball operations, offered an update on what's going on with the organization heading into the final days leading up to the deadline.

"Obviously the market dynamics are a little bit different with the trade deadline coming up in nine days," Friedman said. "Our philosophy hasn't changed. We're going to remain consistent in our approach and how we go about exploring talks. The teams we're talking to, in the most part, are viewing this in a much shorter lens than we are. Ours is bigger and wider in that we're looking for players who are going to help us for a number of years. So, we're going to continue to have conversations along those lines. We'll continue to try and add good young players to our Major League team and to our system."

Asked if the Rays had any untouchable players, Friedman answered: "No such thing."

"In the position we're in, it's our duty to listen to any thoughts that anybody has regarding anybody," Friedman said. "Obviously there are some who are much more difficult to move than others."

Julio Lugo is the most prominent member of the team mentioned in trade rumors; the Rays shortstop will become a free agent at the end of the season.

"I would say that no matter what happens with Lugo in the next nine days, it's going to be something where we're going to explore talks to have him on the '07 and beyond team," Friedman said.

When asked if he's been in contact with Lugo's agent, Friedman replied: "Not lately."

Coming up: The Rays and Orioles will wrap up their three-game series against the O's with a 1:15 ET contest Sunday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Left-hander Scott Kazmir will start for the Rays, and will be opposed by left-hander Erik Bedard.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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