Longoria "excited" and "nervous" about returning to third base
Evan Longoria will make his much anticipated return to third base tonight for the Tampa Bay Rays, his first start there since coming off the disabled list.
Longoria said he's excited for it, having thought about it for a long time, but is admittedly nervous, not knowing exactly what to expect. He said he and the Rays have talked and planned for this moment, but left it up to manager Joe Maddon to tell him he's ready. And that moment came this afternoon when the lineup card was put up this afternoon.
Longoria, who missed over three months with a partially torn left hamstring, has hit .244 with two homers in 13 games (all at designated hitter) since returning.
"It's a tough decision for me, and it's better that it's taken out of my hands," Longoria said. "He just penciled me in the lineup. Because there's never going to be, at least in my opinion, 100 percent confidence saying 'I'm ready' the first day back. I definitely have some hesitation, but I think going out there and getting through a game and feeling fine - and I don't anticipate anything going wrong - that's what it's going to take for me to get past that step."
Maddon said they had planned it this way, coinciding with DH Luke Scott coming off the DL. Maddon said how often Longoria plays third base depends on how he feels after each game, and said he likely won't be playing a full nine innings each time (including tonight). Longoria hasn't been able to go full speed on the bases, and likewise will have some limitations defensively.
"Obviously it's going to be different than anything you can simulate, the same way hitting and running the bases is," Longoria said. "We'll see when I get out there. I'm going to have to probably, at least for now, restrain from going hard after that ball in the six-hole and diving after it. But the way our defense is set up and shifts and stuff we use, hopefully I'm just in the right position and won't have to do too much."
-- JOE SMITH