HOUSTON — Evan Longoria returned to the Rays lineup Tuesday as the designated hitter, but it's unclear when he'll be back at third base.
Longoria, who missed three games due to the lingering plantar fasciitis in his right foot, went 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk before getting lifted for a pinch-runner in the ninth. Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria won't be able to run at full speed, but after two straight days of pregame workouts, including running the bases Tuesday, they felt he could play.
Maddon said Longoria's availability will be day to day, depending on how he feels and his pain tolerance. "It's one of those things where you're not concerned with permanent injury," Maddon said. "So you let it fly."
Maddon said the concern with Longoria playing third base is him being on his feet the entire game, worrying the injury might get aggravated. But Maddon noted the impact of Longoria in the lineup, allowing RF Wil Myers to move back to No. 5 and Ben Zobrist to slide in at No. 3.
"It's outstanding," Maddon said. "We always love to have him back in the lineup. It just stacks everything different, it makes us better."
TOUGH CALL: Maddon said it was a difficult decision to send INF Ryan Roberts down to Triple A on Tuesday, making room for LHP David Price, especially after Roberts hit two homers in Monday's 12-0 win.
"I don't know the last time I sent somebody out that hit two home runs and three knocks and have himself a great game," Maddon said. "He kind of knew it might be forthcoming, and he'll be back. The thing I really appreciate about (Monday) night is how well he handled that moment, knowing there was a pretty good chance he was going to get sent back the next day. I was really impressed with everything Ryan did (Monday) night. He's going to help us win the pennant at some point again this year."
Stanek signs: RHP Ryan Stanek was a little disappointed to drop in last month's draft to the 29th pick. And after signing with Rays on Tuesday, for the slot value of $1,758,300, Stanek is ready to prove the other teams wrong.
"Of course, I always try to play with a little chip on my shoulder," Stanek said. "I have a really good opportunity here with (the Rays), and I'm just excited to get playing and start working."'
Stanek, 21, will report to Port Charlotte today to start getting back to game shape, having last pitched in the NCAA regions in May, and then be assigned to short-season Class A Hudson Valley and used as a starter.
After going 10-2 with a 1.39 ERA in 16 starts as a junior for Arkansas (ranked the No. 13 prospect in the draft by Baseball America), 22-8, 2.55 ERA over three seasons, the decision to go pro was easy. "I love Arkansas, but I felt like I'd done a lot there and I felt like this was a really, really good opportunity for me," Stanek said. "So I don't feel like it was that hard."
The Rays have signed 33 of their 41 picks.
MISCELLANY: RHP Alex Cobb (mild concussion) is making steady progress, playing catch from 90 feet Tuesday at the Trop and using the elliptical for the first time since getting hit in the head with a line drive June 15. … Ex-Rays 1B Carlos Pena rejoined the Astros on Tuesday, but was not in the lineup, after spending the past few days in the Dominican Republic due to the death in the family.… First-round pick Nick Ciuffo played in his first game for the Gulf Coast League Rays on Tuesday. The catcher went 1-for-3 against the GCL Red Sox. SS Riley Unroe , a second-round pick, hit his first pro home run in the same game, over the replica Green Monster.
Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]