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Longoria will take his swings



3B prospect Evan Longoria will get the chance to show in spring training whether he is ready for the major leagues as the Rays have dropped the idea of making one of the spring's biggest decisions before the start of camp.
Manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday the Rays will base their decision on how Longoria plays during the spring, how he handles himself and other factors, and likely won't render a verdict until mid-March at the earliest.
"We're just going to have him come into camp and we're just going to watch it as it progresses and we'll make our decision,'' Maddon said. "We're not going to just pre-set it before camp.''
The evaluation of Longoria will be made independent of other players, Maddon said, and based on what it best for the talented 22-year-old who is considered a future star.
"For me, personally, it's the entire thing. There's no one area. He could come in and hit .500 and that might not make him make the team,'' Maddon said. "It's just going to be how we're seeing it progress, how we feel the whole thing is coming together, a lot of different things. ...
"I've got to see it on the field. I've not really been on the field with this guy. I love him. I've seen him in the fall league and I've had conversations, we've gone out to dinner. He's a major-leaguer, there's no question. When is the right time to make that happen, that's what we've got to figure out.''
Longoria told the Times recently that he hoped for the chance to prove he was ready and would have been disappointed if the Rays had made a decision ahead of time. They had been considering doing so because they prefer not to make evaluations in the spring, when the level of competition is inconsistent, and to reduce the pressure and scrutiny.
Maddon addressed the fans attending Tuesday's kickoff luncheon sponsored by the St. Petersburg-area and Clearwater chambers.
He also:
     -Reiterated that the competition for the two open spots in the rotation will include Jason Hammel, J.P. Howell, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Niemann and Andy Sonnanstine.
     -Said players will report to camp, which opens Friday, in good shape injury-wise, with no - thus far - unexpected health concerns.
    -Considers five of the seven bullpen spots taken by Troy Percival, Al Reyes, Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller and Gary Glover.
     -Doesn't expect any further additions to a spring roster that now stands at 56.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:33am]


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