PORT CHARLOTTE — The trade of good friend and clubhouse leader 2B Logan Forsythe that upset Rays 3B Evan Longoria still stings, but as he looked around the Rays clubhouse Saturday, Longoria said he felt better about what his bosses did.
"There was so much shuffling, I think the loss of Logan, it can't be overlooked because it kind of cast a cloud, but when you look at it in the totality — and it's hard to look at right now — but I think at the end of the day we've bettered ourselves a little bit," Longoria said.
"I can't say we got much better losing him, but if you take him away but then you insert the pieces we do have, I like it. And I think we've positioned ourselves to be right there."
Longoria, 31, signed through 2022 with a 2023 option, said he believes the Rays are committed to winning and relative to their big-market opponents did "as much as we could have done in the offseason to try and give ourselves the best chance to win this year."
He likes the lineup that can "probably stack up power numbers-wise with the rest of the teams in the division" and is pleased the team is refocusing on pitching and defense and added speed with OF Mallex Smith. He feels "the biggest question mark" is the bullpen but that with fulfilled expectations and good health, the Rays can compete.
"I don't feel like we don't have a chance," he said.
New look, new routine
. Evan Longoria showed up with a new look, blond-on-top hair and, more striking, a full beard he has been growing since November and that wife Jaime Edmondson is a big fan of. "My wife likes it, and that's what it's all about," Longoria quipped. "I'll probably keep it until I suck for a couple weeks and then it'll be gone. It'll be an excuse why."
. Despite a 36-homer season that was one of his best, Longoria changed his winter workout routine, cutting way back on his hitting, switching from yoga to Pilates and going back to the Exos (former API) facility in Arizona. "I took the (Cubs RHP) Jake Arrieta advice and did a bunch of Pilates with my wife, and did less hitting, a lot less hitting," he said.
. The cutback in hitting was because Longoria felt the successful adjustments he made last season carried over, so he didn't have to do his usual experimenting. "My swing has probably felt as good as it's ever felt coming into spring," he said.
Manager Kevin Cash will address the team before today's first full-squad workout but isn't planning a great oration to start his third season. "It's going to be short, I can give you that," Cash said. "Six minutes the first year, 90 seconds last year, and it'll be somewhere close to that again. The guys in the clubhouse allow that to be a short message because they get it, they understand, they're accountable, they've done a lot of good things this offseason, and I don't think they need to be talked to for a lengthy period of time."
Quote of the day
"Come watch him hit, he hasn't lost anything. He's feeding a lot of alligators out there."
Manager Kevin Cash, on slimmed-down OF/DH Corey Dickerson's power
Manager Kevin Cash said he added the pingpong table to the clubhouse after reading how doing so helped the NFL Falcons with team-building: "The more interaction that we can get, we've got a lot of new faces here, if that can help us have a little more fun off the field and do some stuff like that, why not." 3B Evan Longoria said he's probably the best pingponger, though RHP Tommy Hunter and LHP Blake Snell might challenge.
Today's first full-squad workout starts at 10:30 a.m. at the Charlotte Sports Park (2300 El Jobean Road), lasting about 2¾ hours. Admission and parking are free. Driving time from the bay area is 1½-2 hours. Suggested route: Interstate 75 south to Toledo Blade Road, go west 6½ miles to El Jobean Road (SR 776), go right 2 miles, stadium complex is on left. Information: (941) 235-5025.
. RHP Erasmo Ramirez looked good in his first bullpen session after a left hamstring tweak that delayed him a few days.
. RHP Shawn Tolleson was held out again for "preventative" reasons regarding his back.
. Hitters have the unappealing task of stepping in today against live pitching, with flame-throwing LHP Jose Alvarado and RHP Ryne Stanek on the mound.