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As decision time nears, Longoria maintains high level of play

Third-base prospect Evan Longoria, being greeted by Joel Guzman after hitting a two-run homer in the eighth Friday, 
is batting .333 with seven RBIs in 24 at-bats this spring.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Third-base prospect Evan Longoria, being greeted by Joel Guzman after hitting a two-run homer in the eighth Friday, is batting .333 with seven RBIs in 24 at-bats this spring.

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon said the club is "getting closer" to making a decision whether touted 3B prospect Evan Longoria will break camp with the big-league club.

After Longoria made two more big plays to seal Friday's 8-4 win over the Jays, he insisted he hoped to make it "tough" for the Rays to keep him off the opening-day roster.

Longoria came off the bench to crush an eighth-inning delivery from RHP Jeremy Accardo over the right-centerfield fence for his second homer of the spring. Later, Longoria ended the game by backhanding a sharp grounder to his right and throwing out Marco Scutaro with time to spare.

Maddon raved about how Longoria's homer came against "one of the better pitchers in the league last year in closing games." When asked if Longoria, 22, was a major-league player, Maddon, who always seems to smile when answering Longoria questions, said: "He's going to be a major-leaguer, absolutely, for many years. He has a chance to be an All-Star player for many years, too."

Longoria, who's hitting .333, has kept an even keel throughout the process.

"I feel like I'm doing my part," he said. "I'm going about my work the right way. Like I said all along, things have to fall into place, and hopefully they do. But I feel like as long as I do what I've been doing, I'll be all right."

No regrets: LHP Brian Anderson's playing career may be over. But his playful sense of humor remains intact. When he saw his new 91/2-sized Nike spikes arrived at his locker two days after a torn ulnar collateral ligament ended his comeback from two Tommy John elbow surgeries, he joked, "I don't even want to donate them 'cause they're my last pair."

"I definitely had my time to feel bad, but … this is easier to take 'cause I know we did it the right way," Anderson, 35, said of the injury. "Whether it was today, or the end of camp, it was going to go. There's nothing else we could have done. There were no regrets."

As for his postplaying career options, Anderson said he wants to be around the game, but he could go to law school or return to the Tribe Report TV show he co-hosted in his two years away from baseball.

"If I do end up going home, I'll have to get the baseball package now so I can watch these guys."

Jackson's aim: Maddon said RHP Edwin Jackson pitched "relatively well" Friday, but "the walks are still a big concern" after the hard-throwing right-hander gave up four walks in five innings (four runs).

Jackson avoided the big inning that doomed him Sunday (when he surrendered six runs in the second) and showed "better focus," Maddon said.

Jackson, who appeared the front-runner for one of the final two rotation spots after his first two walkless spring outings, is still trying to get back on track.

"I still want to cut down the walks," Jackson said. "But for the most part, (Friday's outing) wasn't as erratic."

Miscellany: SS Andy Cannizaro said he feels "better" after two days of treatment for back inflammation, and he could play again Sunday or Tuesday. … Maddon said LHP Scott Kazmir is still slated to make his first spring start Sunday against the Tigers. … RHP Mitch Talbot was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Joe Smith can be reached at

joesmith@sptimes.com.

As decision time nears, Longoria maintains high level of play 03/14/08 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2008 9:21pm]

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