HOUSTON — 3B Evan Longoria decided to take matters into his own hands.
In an effort to break out of his latest slump, Longoria hit on Friday without batting gloves. And he hit well with a two-run homer and RBI single.
It's a technique Longoria has used before, although sparingly; most recently, he thought, in 2008.
"It's just one thing that I've done here and there," he said. "It hurts my hands really, so it makes your pitch selection a little better.
"You don't want to swing at too many balls that you can't really handle."
Longoria, who has yet to have an extended hot streak this season, is hoping Friday is the start of something. And you can expect him to try it again the same way tonight.
"It's just coincidental that what happened happened (Friday)," he said. "But I guess I'll just keep doing it until either it starts hurting too much or it stops working."
HOWELL RELIEVED: LHP J.P. Howell feared the worst given how much his left foot hurt walking off the field Tuesday.
"I thought it was 4-6 weeks in a boot," Howell said. "I was kind of concerned."
As the pain for the most part went away on Wednesday, as he was flying home to see team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton, Howell was confused.
And when Eaton told him the issue wasn't structural but medical, a diagnosis of gout — a form of arthritis that can be affected by food and drink — Howell was relieved and a bit surprised.
"I didn't think I could have a diet problem weighing 185 pounds," he said.
Gout is more common in older people, which also caught Howell, 28, a bit off guard.
"Everyone says, 'My grandpa has that,' or 'My grandma.' It's never been anyone's brother or anyone in their 20s."
The pain is occasional and can be severe, but it can be managed with medication. Plus, Howell plans to make changes to his diet, cutting back on red meat.
Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged it's an unusual condition but said the key development is Howell no longer has to wonder or worry about what's wrong.
"The biggest thing is that he knows what it is," Maddon said. "And if you know what it is and if it's painful, what are you going to do about it? You've got to just medicate it and maybe change your diet.
"Not knowing what it is just plays on your mind. So now that we have definition, he feels a lot better about it."
DRAFT BREEZE: The Rays signed another compensation-round pick, SS Brandon Martin, No. 38 overall, and were close with second-rounder RHP Lenny Linsky (No. 89). Scouting director R.J. Harrison had his first meeting with top pick RHP Taylor Guerrieri, and talks will continue.
TO THE MATT: Maddon said he believes OF Matt Joyce's slump — 12-for-72 (.167) since May 28 to drop from .377 to .309 — is primarily the result of expanding his strike zone. But also getting Friday and Sunday off, as the Astros start left-handers, will be good for him as the Rays will face a lot of right-handers next week.
NBA WAY: Executive vice president Andrew Friedman has become friends with Rockets GM Daryl Morey and spent Thursday night in their draft room, where the action was even wilder than the MLB draft because they can, and do, make trades.
HE will TAKE ONE TO GO: Maddon raves about Minute Maid Park, which features a retractable roof and glass-paneled wall to allow for city views and is built compactly in downtown Houston.
"They didn't do anything wrong here," he said. "I think it's awesome. We love coming here. The footprint, the number of seats, the way it lays out, I'm a big fan."
MISCELLANY: DH Johnny Damon is expected to play leftfield tonight against RHP Bud Norris and possibly Sunday against LHP J.A. Happ. … The Rays filled out their All-Star ballots before Friday's game.