Live from Port Charlotte: Hellickson's tightness, Longoria's optimism
Evan Longoria signs autographs after batting practice Thursday morning in Port Charlotte. Photo by James Borchuck
UPDATE, 1:34: Manager Joe Maddon said Hellickson had tightness in his right hamstring and they would know more on Friday but it didn't sound like much of a concern.
DEVELOPING: The Rays just got through with their second workout of the spring.
There was one slight setback as RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who is expected to replace RHP Matt Garza in the rotation, felt tightness in his right hamstring during stretching but threw his bullpen session with no issues. "I just didn't stretch it good enough,'' Hellickson said. "I threw a bullpen and everything felt fine. ... I'm fine it just tightened up.''
3B Evan Longoria and 2B Sean Rodriguez were among the position players who reported early, and Longoria said he was optimistic about the season despite all the changes. "I'm excited, I think we all are,'' he said. Longoria said he was "a little" surprised to see the Rays trade SS Jason Bartlett and RHP Matt Garza but expected the free-agent losses. He still feels the Rays have a chance to win again.
Longoria said he "had a good time" working out with Ramirez this off-season and, he deflected back the compliments Ramirez paid him: "Manny's the man.''
Longoria said he would like Ramirez to hit behind him, but knew manager Joe Maddon would put a lot of thought into the lineup. Longoria said he plans to follow Ramirez around and learn what he can from him about hitting.
Longoria added about 10 pounds - up to 225 - because he felt he lost too much weight last season.