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Longoria's return to Rays may be delayed

ST. PETERSBURG — Injured 3B Evan Longoria wasn't ready for the Yankees series, and though the Rays don't have a definitive timetable, the All-Star's availability for next week's Red Sox series could be in question.

Longoria, on the disabled list since Aug. 11 with a fractured right wrist, has yet to swing a regular bat, much less face live pitching, and manager Joe Maddon said he isn't sure when he will. Maddon said Longoria would need at least two to three days after a batting practice session (without discomfort) before getting back in the lineup. The Rays travel to Fenway Park Monday through Wednesday to face the second-place Red Sox.

"We're in a holding pattern in regard to that," Maddon said. "He's feeling better. I know the throwing part is coming along really well. I just don't know when he'll be cleared to go."

In his rehab, Longoria has played catch and taken practice swings with a Wiffle bat and broomstick. The 22-year-old rookie said he could play defense right now or serve as a pinch-runner. But he doesn't want to risk re-injuring the wrist, which could put him out for the rest of the season, by coming back too soon.

Said Longoria: "At this point right now, we're kind of holding off and letting it do its healing."

NAVI BACK: C Dioner Navarro started for the second time in the past seven games, and Maddon said he expects the All-Star to resume regular duty as long as his hamstrings hold up. Navarro, pulled in the sixth inning Aug. 26 against the Blue Jays, had been bothered by sore hamstrings but said he's feeling better every day. If his legs respond well, he could start at least three of the next four games, with a possible rest on one of the weekend day games, Maddon said.

"I don't want to push it," Maddon said. "We'll see how he plays."

PERCY OKAY: Closer Troy Percival said he felt great after appearing Wednesday for the first time since coming off the disabled list (cartilage damage in his right knee). Percival said he could pitch again today.

Percival entered in the ninth and got two quick outs before walking Bobby Abreu in a 12-pitch at-bat, setting up Alex Rodriguez's two-run homer (which required instant replay).

"It's hard to be happy after you lose a game, but I'm really happy with (the outing), that I know now I have no issues," Percival said. "I can cover first. I can field bunts. The brace doesn't bother me. I have a lot of things cleared up in my own head in just one outing."

MILLER TIME: Just more than a month ago, LHP Trever Miller was struggling to find the strike zone in a slump in which he allowed six earned runs in a three-outing stretch. But after making a mechanical adjustment, he has been one of the Rays' most reliable relievers, having made 11 scoreless appearances in his past 13. Tuesday, he made his first two-inning stint in more than two years, striking out a season-high three.

Miller said that after watching film of his delivery, he's using a shorter leg kick and has moved his hands up a little higher at the set position, and "the ball is coming out with more life and more intensity in the strike zone."

Said Maddon: "I just see a very aggressive nature about him now that is better than maybe in the beginning of the year."

MINOR MATTERS: LHP David Price, the 2007 top pick, pitched five shutout innings for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday as the Bulls beat the Louisville Bats 3-0 in the International League playoff opener. Price allowed three hits, walked three and struck out six. RHP Mitch Talbot starts for the Bulls in Game 2 tonight of the best-of-five series.

MISCELLANY: 1B Carlos Pena received the Roberto Clemente Award prior to Wednesday's game, presented by Roberto Clemente Jr.

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

Longoria's return to Rays may be delayed 09/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 4:40pm]
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