Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Evan Longoria hopes less pressure leads to more performance

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria is planning to do some things differently in his quest to once again be Evan Longoria.

Reporting to Rays camp Tuesday after a busy offseason — highlighted by his marriage to longtime mate Jaime Edmondson — the veteran third baseman and unofficial captain revealed significant changes to his physical training and mental approach in hopes of reviving his production and the team's chances to win a championship.

Most significant, he is backing away from the leadership role that he personally took on last spring after the team lost several key veterans, as well as manager Joe Maddon. He makes the stark admission that the burden wore him down and ultimately impacted his performance.

"Nobody wants to feel that pressure every day," Longoria said. "For me, I felt it a lot last year. I was hard on myself. And I know that it's not the best thing for you mentally.

"The end of the season, it (stinks). You're tired, and sometimes day to day it's not as enjoyable as it could be being here because you're so mentally drained. So for me, it's more trying to take the weight off myself, but also knowing that the rest of the guys are capable. It's not like I'm trying to trick myself into not having to do things or be a leader or whatever. I really feel like I don't have to be anymore because we have guys that are capable."

That means he is happy to see other players emerge as leaders — already chiding ace Chris Archer about publicly scolding two pitching prospects for not arriving early enough Sunday. And to see more experienced veterans added to the roster, as well as more established hitters to provide needed protection in the lineup.

"I feel like my role is now — I don't have to do as much," Longoria said. "I don't feel that weight or responsibility anymore. Or at least it's less. … My expectations of myself I guess are maybe I won't be … so hard on myself every day. I think that really helps, not feeling that pressure every day to kind of do too much."

To further that process, he is reading another self-help type book, as he is wont, this one Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant that deals with the placebo effect. "I'm kinda hoping it's about how we can learn to trick our minds into believing, or actually feeling, certain things," he said.

Longoria is 30 now, joking that he is "supposed to be coming into my prime" and noting how good he feels, the wrist injury and other nagging issues from last season gone.

It wasn't that he had a horrible year, hitting .270 with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. But those were the lowest production numbers for a full season of his eight and his second straight overall down year.

That left him searching for some way to improve his performance, opting to add bulk and potentially strength by going back to a previous routine.

Down to about 200 pounds by the end of last season, and losing nearly 10 more after getting sick a few weeks before the New Year's Eve wedding in Los Angeles and honeymoon in Paris, Longoria opted for mass in his workouts and showed up in Port Charlotte weighing around 212.

He is hoping to get a boost as well by going back to yoga, even taking a class in nearby Punta Gorda on his way to the complex Tuesday morning.

"I think there was maybe a little something missing there for me," he said, "whether it was flexibility wise or just maybe the little added whip or core strength or whatever it was that yoga (provided)."

It has been six years since Longoria was last an All-Star, three since he got a vote for the American League MVP award. He wasn't anywhere on MLB Network's ranking of the "Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now!" and only an honorable mention selection on ESPN's Buster Olney's top 10, lists in the past on which he would have ranked high.

And, by the way, he is making $12.1 million this season and has at least six more years and another $100 million remaining on his contract.

Is he still among the elite?

"I think I am," Longoria said. "Maybe my numbers aren't. I think there's a lot of different ways to impact the game. Obviously, offensively, I would love to put up the numbers that I did in 2009 or 2010.

"And I believe that I'm capable of doing that still. But it comes with an accumulation of work. It's not just going to happen again. I've got to figure out what that formula is."

More important, he insists, is helping the Rays win a championship.

"I don't really care about reclaiming (a spot)," he said. "I care about being a good player for this team. That's really all that matters."

Or being a great player again.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Today's schedule

The Rays have a workout for pitchers and catchers starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road) and lasting about 2 hours. Admission and parking are free. Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 South to Toledo Blade Road. Go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776). Go right 2 miles. Stadium complex is on left. Information: (941) 235-5025.

Is there a pattern here?

3B Evan Longoria hasn't been able to match the production from early in his career. Here is a year-by-year look

Year G Avg. HR RBI OPS

2008 122 .272 27 85 .874

2009 157 .281 33 113 .889

2010 151 .294 22 104 .879

2011 133 .244 31 99 .850

2012 74 .289 17 55 .896

2013 160 .269 32 88 .842

2014 162 .253 22 91 .724

2015 160 .270 21 73 .764

Career .271 205 708 .833

Lefty impresses

Rays bullpen candidate Enny Romero looks sharp in early workouts. 3C

Today's schedule

The Rays have a workout for pitchers and catchers starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road) and lasting about 2 hours. Admission and parking are free. Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 South to Toledo Blade Road. Go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776). Go right 2 miles. Stadium complex is on left. Information: (941) 235-5025.

Is there a pattern here?

3B Evan Longoria hasn't matched the production from early in his career. Here is a year-by-year look.

Year G Avg. HR RBI OPS

2008 122 .272 27 85 .874

2009 157 .281 33 113 .889

2010 151 .294 22 104 .879

2011 133 .244 31 99 .850

2012 74 .289 17 55 .896

2013 160 .269 32 88 .842

2014 162 .253 22 91 .724

2015 160 .270 21 73 .764

Career .271 205 708 .833



Is there a pattern here?

3B Evan Longoria hasn't been able to match the production from early in his career. Here is a year-by-year look

Year G Avg. HR RBI OPS

2008 122 .272 27 85 .874

2009 157 .281 33 113 .889

2010 151 .294 22 104 .879

2011 133 .244 31 99 .850

2012 74 .289 17 55 .896

2013 160 .269 32 88 .842

2014 162 .253 22 91 .724

2015 160 .270 21 73 .764

Career . 271 205 708 .833

Evan Longoria hopes less pressure leads to more performance 02/23/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 9:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 11:01: No Dickerson today as the Rays go with seven right-handers.

    Here is the lineup:

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]