CHICAGO -- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg held court prior to Saturday's Rays-Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
Prominent among the discussion was the topic of David Price, whom the Rays traded to the Tigers on July 31. Many fans have conveyed an understanding of why the Rays traded Price.
"It seems like people get it," Sternberg said. "I'm not saying it's pleasant, but they get it."
While Price was traded, Sternberg pointed out that the Rays' front office did not gut the team.
"I think a lot of the things that David had done here will stay with us a long time," Sternberg said. "But it was David, it wasn't three, four, five, eight guys. And I think people got that and understood that we're still in it to win it. It really was the classic one eye on the present, one eye on the future deal. It doesn't make things easier today."
Sternberg was asked if he had any regrets in the aftermath of the Price trade.
"I've probably had only one regret. I think of only one regret as an owner that really fell on us that would have been meaningful and made a difference," Sternberg said. "Back when we lost the [2010 Division Series] to the Rangers, it was clear we had a use for a bat at that point. And that will stick with me for as long as I have the team."
Given their small-market existence, the Rays' model for remaining competitive depends largely on wisely managing their payroll. And they must stick to that model -- even if it hurts at times, particularly when a fan favorite must go.
"It's the only way for us," Sternberg said. "There is no alternative."
Throughout the Rays' competitive run, which began in 2008, Sternberg's mantra has been to play meaningful games in September. That prospect looked remote at best earlier in the season. But the Rays have been a different team since the early part of June.
"It did seem extraordinarily unlikely," Sternberg said. "At this point, it feels like we will be playing meaningful games in September. We don't have a lot of room for error, which makes it a little unsettling. However, that's the expectation. That's the belief.
"It's August 9, and Aug. 29, I guess we'll have an answer for that. But two weeks from now, I would like to believe we're going to be playing meaningful games in the second part of September. So I'm sort of thinking of it as September in two halves."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.