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Longoria hopes to return to Rays lineup soon

Evan Longoria might play tonight, when David Price is scheduled to start for the first time since May.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Evan Longoria might play tonight, when David Price is scheduled to start for the first time since May.

HOUSTON — The Rays appear confident Evan Longoria (plantar fasciitis) won't be going on the disabled list, with the All-Star third baseman hoping he can return tonight.

Longoria tested his troublesome right foot with early infield work before Monday's game against the Astros, and he took regular batting practice with the team, saying it felt a lot better.

Manager Joe Maddon said it's an awkward injury that is "pretty much pain tolerance," which is why it's a day-by-day situation. He said Longoria might have been able to pinch-hit Monday night if needed.

"We think we might be able to get him back somehow, some way," Maddon said. "The fact we're still playing American League baseball down here helps a little bit. We'll just wait and see, but overall, not so bad."

Longoria said he has been dealing with plantar fasciitis for more than a month but takes it as a positive that "it's only going to get better." Executive VP Andrew Friedman doesn't think Longoria will need a DL stint, which means the team will have to make a different move (such as optioning INF Ryan Roberts) when they activate LHP David Price (left triceps strain) from the DL today.

"I know that it's tough for them and myself to be able to make decisions on the lineup, and the way things are going when it's such a question mark for me," Longoria said. "And I don't want to go in there and just be like, worthless, basically, go out there and not be able to run or be able to do the things I can do. We're kind of stuck in limbo, so I hope to play within the next couple days."

He's Antsy: Price is excited, and admits he'll have butterflies, for tonight's start in Houston, his first since going on the DL in mid May.

"Oh my God, it's going to be like opening day for him," Maddon said.

The left-hander said he is approaching it like the start of a new season, after he failed to meet his high standards in his first nine starts (1-4, 5.24). Price said being on the DL for the first time was "very trying," but added that he is feeling good and expects better results. "It's been a tough process," he said. "But we've done it the right way, and I feel like I am here to stay."

Maddon said Price will be limited to around 90 pitches and would be happy if the pitcher goes six innings. Maddon wants Price to feel comfortable, and the rest will come. "When a guy is that good, if he's healthy, he's going to put up the numbers that everyone expects him to," Maddon said.

WIL POWER: Wil Myers was moved up to No. 3 in the lineup based mostly on necessity with Longoria hurt; Myers would have hit fifth if Longoria had started. Maddon believed Myers could handle it, and it wouldn't "make him try to do more or less." Maddon said he put Myers at DH because he wanted to get Sam Fuld in the outfield, and with a flyball pitcher in LHP Matt Moore, give the rookie a day to get acclimated to a new ballpark.

MINOR MATTERS: The Rays signed OF Evan Frey and RHP Ramon Ramirez to minor league contracts and assigned them to Triple-A Durham; Frey started Game 2 of the Bulls' doubleheader Monday night. Ramirez, 31, has posted a 3.42 ERA over parts of eight big-league seasons and will report to Durham after a few days in Port Charlotte. Frey, 27, has hit .280 with 182 steals over seven minor-league seasons with the Diamondbacks. RHP Will Inman was released.

MISCELLANY: Longoria remained a distant fourth at third base in the last All-Star update. Online voting ends Thursday with results announced Saturday night. … RHP Alex Colome, sent back to Triple-A Durham on Saturday, had a mild elbow strain and is likely headed to the DL.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Longoria hopes to return to Rays lineup soon 07/01/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 1:43am]

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