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Notes: Sonnanstine facing challenges

Notes: Sonnanstine facing challenges

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BOSTON -- Andy Sonnanstine has had a rough go lately.

The 24-year-old right-hander, who will start Wednesday's series finale at Fenway Park, was selected from Triple-A Durham on June 2 and has made 13 starts, posting a 1-8 record with a 6.35 ERA -- including losses in his last eight decisions.

"Lately he's been having trouble with his breaking ball, from what I see, in regard to hanging them and just not getting them to where he wants," manager Joe Maddon said. "Fastball-wise, if you really watch him pitch closely, the fastball doesn't get hit that much. It's the breaking ball that gets hit a lot. And early on, he was doing a good job with both.

"I think right now the fastball is still a good weapon for him. The breaking ball, he just has to hit better spots. It's just been over the bad part of the plate too often."

Sonnanstine's breaking ball has a different look now, according to Maddon.

"When he's right, his breaking ball starts as a strike and becomes a ball," he said. "Right now, it starts a ball and becomes a strike."

Maddon believes that Sonnanstine is capable of making the necessary adjustments to be successful.

"He's been successful everywhere he's been," Maddon said. "I think maybe this is the first time he's really been challenged this way. And to have your first real challenge happen at the Major League level makes it a little more difficult to straighten yourself out. But he's been successful everywhere he's been, and I think he's got very good makeup. And because of that, I think he'll be able to work through it."

Looming deadline: The Rays' negotiation with top overall Draft pick David Price appears as though it will go down to the wire. The Rays have until midnight on Wednesday to sign the left-hander, or else he will head back to Vanderbilt for his senior year.

"Both sides are continuing to work very hard to come to an agreement before the deadline," said Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations. "We remain optimistic that we will complete a deal, and we hope to have good news to report tomorrow."

Under rules implemented this season, a team is awarded an extra pick in next year's Draft if a first- or second-round selection does not sign.

Cabrera a Ray? The Rays claimed Fernando Cabrera via release waivers on Monday, which keeps him from going out onto the open market for the time being.

Cleveland released the right-hander last week after he'd gone 1-2 with a 5.61 ERA this season. Since Cabrera is out of options, the Rays would have to put him on the Major League roster.

The 25-year-old struck out 39 batters in 33 2/3 innings for the Indians this season and will not be eligible for arbitration until 2008. He has five days to join the Rays or else decline and become a free agent.

Three-Dog Crawford: With one more triple, Carl Crawford will become just the third player in the last 75 years to record 60 triples over a four-year span. The others are Lance Johnson (61, 1993-96) and Stan Musial (64, 1946-49).

In addition, he will become the seventh player in the last 50 years to reach 10-plus triples in four consecutive seasons and the fifth in the last 50 years with four consecutive seasons with 10-plus triples and 10-plus home runs.

Groundbreaking ceremony: Officials from the Rays, Charlotte County, HOK Sport and Hunt Construction Group will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at Charlotte Sports Park at 2300 El Jobean Road (S.R. 776) in Port Charlotte on Monday at 11 a.m. ET.

Park renovations will soon begin, and work will be completed in time for the Rays to hold Spring Training there in 2009.

Rays officials in attendance will include Friedman, principal owner Stuart Sternberg, president Matt Silverman, senior vice president of development and business affairs Michael Kalt, senior advisor Don Zimmer; Maddon and pitcher James Shields. Charlotte County commissioners and administrators, and other community leaders will also participate.

On Monday, the Rays will introduce the latest renderings of the facility as it will look in 2009.

Down on the farm: Class A Columbus right-hander Wade Townsend, the Rays' 2005 first-round Draft pick, has been placed on the disabled list with a right elbow problem. ... Triple-A Durham right-hander Jeff Niemann (on the DL with right shoulder tightness) will throw a simulated game on Wednesday. ... Durham right-hander Mitch Talbot earned his fourth consecutive win on Monday night after pitching seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 Bulls win over Charlotte. ... Double-A Montgomery right-hander Chris Mason is fourth in the Southern League, with 118 strikeouts, and first in wins, with 13. ... Montgomery catcher John Jaso ranks fifth in the Southern League in hitting with a .314 average.

Up next: Sonnanstine opposes right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in the finale of the three-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

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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