Evan Longoria targets mid-June return
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said he could start a rehab assignment by the end of the team's road trip and expects to re-join the Rays at the middle of this month.
Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria, who has been out since May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring, would likely need a 7-10 day assignment before returning.
"It's feeling good," Longoria said. "It's at the point where I'm ready to push it. I'm ready to see where we can get on a daily basis. I think we're past all the bad stuff. It's taken a lot of steps forward in the last week and a half."
Longoria is traveling with the team and said the big tests will be in the next couple days, with the mental and physical hurdle of doing acceleration drills and baserunning, before he can start his assignment. He's done everything else, saying he hasn't missed much hitting, and has taken ground balls the last week and a half. But Longoria hasn't ran past 80-90 percent.
"A lot of it is being able to get past the mental block of, "Am I going to feel that again?' Longoria said. "And that's probably not the case. It's just something, that mental hurdle, that you have to get over when you have stuff like this happen."
Longoria, who has dealt with hamstring issues before, understands it's a fine line between knowing how to avoid the same type of injury again.
"It's my cross to bear, I only know how to play one way, and that's 100-percent everyday," Longoria said. "It's always a learning experience when you have something like this. I think hopefully I can teach myself when in fact you do need to go 110 percent and those times when you can maybe help not being in a situation like this again and minimize the effort in a situation that may not need it."
Longoria says it's been really tough to be away, but said it's been impressive how his teammates have stepped up and stayed atop the American League East.
"It's incredible," Longoria said. "I think our position speaks for itself, but it's pretty crazy to me that we really have not played good baseball at all. I don't feel like we've even played to a percentage of potential taht we're able to play. I feel like we've really skated along, we've gotten some lucky victories. They're all good wins, but we've been lucky at times, and pitching has really kept us in a lot."
-- JOE SMITH, Times Staff Writer