Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Aybar shines while replacing Longoria

Willy Aybar is hitting .299 in the past 23 games.

Willy Aybar is hitting .299 in the past 23 games.

ST. PETERSBURG — With Evan Longoria's return from the disabled list uncertain, 3B Willy Aybar's role continues to loom large.

The 25-year-old switch-hitter has filled in admirably, both offensively and defensively. The latter is an aspect of Aybar's game that is better than even manager Joe Maddon expected.

Thursday, Aybar flashed a bit of both in the Rays' 7-5 victory against the Yankees.

He capped a five-run second with a two-run single then added a solo homer in the fourth. In the third, Aybar made one of the game's biggest defensive plays, diving to his left to snag a sharp grounder by Derek Jeter before throwing him out.

In the 23 games Longoria has missed with a fractured right wrist, Aybar has hit .299 with 16 RBIs and the Rays have gone 16-7.

"Willy has done a great job," Longoria said. "He's been a true pro."

Aybar, the opening day third baseman, has enjoyed a career rejuvenation since being acquired in the offseason from Atlanta, where he missed the 2007 season because of injuries and personal matters (including a stint at a rehab facility for substance abuse).

Aybar, who called last year "a waste," has relished his everyday role since Longoria went on the DL on Aug. 11, saying the more consistent at-bats have been a big reason why he has raised his average to .250.

IN THE SWING: Longoria said he plans to take some swings with a broomstick again Saturday and if all goes well will try a bat. Longoria, who feels okay to play defensively, said he backed off swinging for several days after continuing to feel discomfort.

The Rays have said it would take at least 2-3 days from the time Longoria participates in his first live batting practice to get into the lineup.

POLE AXED: In a move that should eliminate confusion, the Rays will take down the short yellow foul pole "extensions" on the D-ring catwalk that are beyond the outfield fence.

minor matters: RHP Mitch Talbot lasted just two innings for Triple-A Durham in a 19-3 loss to Louisville on Thursday in Game 2 of the International League playoffs. Talbot gave up seven runs on nine hits. The best-of-five series is tied at 1, and RHP Jeff Niemann is scheduled to start for the Bulls tonight.

LESS IS MORE: Maddon said the Rays will continue to monitor CF B.J. Upton, who has a torn left labrum. Maddon said playing Upton won't cause further damage to the shoulder, and the Rays have allowed him to skip pregame batting practice to conserve his swings.

MISCELLANY: RHP Andy Sonnanstine, tonight's scheduled starter against the Blue Jays, flew to Toronto before Thursday's game. … Yankees OF Bobby Abreu was a late scratch with a jammed left wrist (sustained in Wednesday's ninth inning) and is day to day.

Joe Smith can be reached at

Aybar shines while replacing Longoria 09/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 7:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning


    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  2. Perfection's not easy in baseball, just ask Calvary Christian


    CLEARWATER — Of the more than 300 varsity high school baseball teams in Florida, only one has won every game this season: Calvary Christian. The Warriors are a perfect 28-0.

    Calvary Christian's Matheu Nelson (63) prepares to take an at bat during the first inning of Wednesday's (5/10/17) region baseball semifinal game between Trinity Prep and Calvary Christian in Clearwater.
  3. Rays shut out Angels to cap homestand, get back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays completed their seven-game homestand Thursday with a 4-0 victory against the Angels, a win that moved them back to .500 for the season.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) after they score on the single by center fielder Colby Rasmus (28) in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.
  4. Bucs suspended RB Doug Martin breaks his silence and says his drug problem is 'definitely behind me.'


    He would not talk about the drug he abused. He didn’t identify the rehab facility he entered last January or how long he was there.

    Doug Martin was contrite but optimistic about returning to the form he demonstrated as the NFL's second leading rusher two years ago.
  5. Kickoff times announced for Florida-Michigan, FSU-Alabama


    College football's blockbuster Sept. 2 season openers finally have kickoff times.