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Evan Longoria returns to Tampa Bay Rays lineup tonight

UPDATE, 6:20: Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria was "adamant" about returning to the lineup tonight. "He came in and he was adamant that he was ready to go,'' Maddon said. "You get your No. 3 hitter back, you get a Gold Glove third baseman back, you get all that stuff back. It just makes a huge difference. I know he's eager to get back out there, it's difficult for him to sit around, too. It's very difficult to watch him sit around also. So it's really good to get him back, absolutely.''

Maddon confirmed that SS Jason Bartlett (sprained left ankle) will not be ready to return when eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, and though Maddon said there is no set "finish line" it sounded like Bartlett could need another week off, plus a few days for a minor-league rehab. "I have not heard anything even in regard to getting him out playing (in the minors),'' Maddon said. "He's still pretty much going through the normal "get-well" stuff.''

DH Pat Burrell "more than likely" will play a third rehab game for Class A Charlotte on Thursday following a two-game stint tonight and Tuesday with Double-A Montgomery, with an eye on having him back in the lineup for Friday's game against Washington.

LHP Scott Kazmir continues to throw and improve, and Maddon said by the end of this week they should have a plan for sending Kazmir out on a minor-league rehab assignment.

Longoria is playing tonight, returning to the starting lineup for the first time since leaving Tuesday's game with left hamstring tightness. 
Longoria said he felt fine in drills earlier today and is feeling close to 95 percent. "I can't wait to be back in the lineup," Longoria said.
Here is the rest of the Rays lineup, the latest somewhat standard alignment vs. lefthanded pitchers:
Upton, cf
Crawford, lf
Longoria, 3b
Pena, 1b
Aybar, 2b
Zobrist, ss
Dillon, dh
Kapler, rf
Hernandez, c
Sonnanstine, p

And for the Yankees:

Jeter, ss
Damon, lf
Teixeira, 1b
Rodriguez, 3b
Cano, 2b
Posada, c
Matsui, dh
Swisher, rf
Cabrera, cf
Pettitte, p

NEWS: The best case scenario didn't happen for the Rays, which was that Evan Longoria showed up and felt so good manager Joe Maddon could put him in the lineup and post it early. Instead there is no lineup up yet, meaning they likely are again waiting to see how Longoria feels after pre-game drills. Or that he's not playing.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:47am]


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