Third baseman Evan Longoria insists he is more frustrated than anyone else over the uncertainty of his return to the Rays from a left hamstring injury that won't quite heal. Even worse when he sees some of the reaction to his extended absence.
"It's been, mentally, really, really tough to go through," he said. "It's tough to look at my Twitter every day and see people say that I'm not the kind of competitor, the kind of player that they thought. So that (stinks)."
But as Longoria works on strengthening the tricky hamstring — and pondering the intriguing possibility, since fielding seems to be the biggest issue, of returning as a DH — an entire organization waits, its future somewhat in the balance.
"Believe me," he said, "I feel the weight of that."
With the July 31 deadline for nonwaiver trades looming, executive vice president Andrew Friedman candidly acknowledges, "getting some clarity on the situation with Evan will help us determining kind of which way to go."
Obviously, having Longoria back in the lineup soon is their best solution: They were 15-8 and averaging 4.61 runs a game with him, and are 30-34 and averaging 4.03 without (through Friday). Plus, they were held to one or no runs only once with him (and won that game), and nine times in the 64 without.
If they feel he won't be back soon, the options aren't as appealing.
Weigh how much to invest in finding an upgraded replacement, be it another castoff (following Drew Sutton and Brooks Conrad), a player with future value with either options or positional flexibility, or (least likely) a frontliner as a two-month rental.
Or give up on this season and look to the future, trading away potential free agents such as Carlos Peña, Luke Scott, B.J. Upton, Jeff Keppinger, Jose Molina, Joel Peralta and others.
How Longoria feels over the next weeks will have a lot to do with how the Rays are feeling in September, and October.