For starters: Rays struggling Longoria will lead off against Indians
In an apparent effort to get Evan Longoria's bat going, the Rays will have their All Star third baseman lead off today against the Indians.
Longoria, who missed 26 games earlier this season with a strained left oblique, is mired in 4-for-33 slump and hitting .209 with two homers and nine RBIs entering today's game against Cleveland.
Longoria said Rays mananger Joe Maddon told him, "his main focus was just for me to get back having fun playing the game and this is the way to do it.'
"It's just a snowball effect,'' Longoria said. "When things don't go well over the course of a couple days, it's tough to kind of kick yourself and get those negative thoughts out of your mind. So at this point, I'm just trying to stay positive and get back into doing what I know I can do at some point.''
Maddon, who says the Rays don't have a typical leadoff hitter anyway, said Longoria could remain in the leadoff spot or be moved back to his normal third or fourth spot in the order, depending on how this experiment goes.
"Hitting in the four hole carries some responsibilities that you're going to feel,'' Maddon said. "So now he's supposed to set it up for the four hole hitter, the two hole hitter, the three hole hitter and we'll see how it works out. Give him a different mental approach.
"The bigger part of it to me is to lessen some responsibility to try to drive in people all the time. Why not get out there and be driven in and let's see how that works?''
Here is the Rays lineup
Evan Longoria 3B
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Matt Joyce RF
B.J. Upton CF
Casey Kotchman 1B
Sean Rodriguez SS
Sam Fuld LF
Kelly Shoppach C
Pitching is James Shields (5-2, 2.00)
Cleveland Indians lineup
Michael Brantley CF
Asdrubel Cabrera SS
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Travis Buck LF
Carlos Santana C
Grady Sizemore DH
Orlando Cabrera 2B
Matt LaPorta IB
Jack Hannahan 3B
Pitching is Carlos Carrasco (3-2, 5.16)