Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Longoria clears air with Shields

CHICAGO — With the Rays set to face former ace James Shields on Tuesday in Kansas City, Evan Longoria already has reached out to diffuse the potential for any awkwardness or high-and-tight messages after his recent comments about his longtime teammate.

"We finally got to talk, and he knows I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and I love the way he went about his business here," Longoria said. "I'm excited about (facing Shields). I'm looking forward to it."

The day before the season opener, Longoria said the Rays had better team camaraderie and were in "a better mental state" without Shields and B.J. Upton because the two longtime Rays had remained somewhat scarred by the team's rough past.

Shields responded that he was "disappointed" and surprised by Longoria's comments and believed he was a good leader with the Rays. Longoria said Thursday he and Shields exchanged a series of text messages and are now "all on the same page."

"I wanted to reach out to him to let him know it wasn't a slap in his face," Longoria said. "It wasn't meant in any derogatory way, and I wanted him to understand that, and we were in agreement with that."

Longoria said that in retrospect he didn't convey his message properly given how much he thinks of Shields.

"I think everybody in the clubhouse respects what he did here and knows how he was the driving factor of this franchise being where it is now," Longoria said. "He spent a lot of years developing this franchise and turning it into what it is today."

Shields, plus RHP Wade Davis and INF Elliot Johnson were traded to the Royals for a package of prospects topped by OF Wil Myers.

"I know that he's happy where he is, and obviously it shows by how he's pitching, and I'm happy for him," Longoria said. "I wish him nothing but the best, other than the day he faces us."

SHORT AT SHORT: SS Yunel Escobar was not in the lineup Thursday and likely won't play tonight, but he said the tightness in his right hamstring, which forced him out of Wednesday's game against the Yankees, felt better after treatment. "I'll see how it feels (today)," Escobar said, with pitcher Joel Peralta translating. "I don't think it will be big trouble."

Ben Zobrist started at short, and he will remain there until Escobar returns, said manager Joe Maddon, who expects to know more by tonight.

Zobrist started 47 games at short last season and looked to be the starter for this season until Escobar was acquired in a December trade.

"I feel pretty good (at short)," Zobrist said. "I took a lot of ground balls there in the spring, and I've take some periodically as the season started here, so when I went there (Wednesday, after Escobar was hurt), I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable or anything like that."

REHAB REPORT: DH Luke Scott (right calf strain) went 0-for-4 in the second game of his rehab assignment for advanced Class A Charlotte. How he felt after the game will determine if Scott (1-for-8 in two games) plays again or rests tonight. Either way, he is scheduled to play Saturday and Sunday for the Stone Crabs and then be re-evaluated, with hopes of rejoining the Rays next week in Kansas City.

MINOR MATTERS: Veteran INF Mike Fontenot, a potential replacement if Escobar were to be out awhile, left Triple-A Durham's game after three innings due to soreness in his right hamstring and is day-to-day. … Myers had his second homer for Durham and extended his on-base streak to all 18 of his games. … Manager Charlie Montoyo rejoined the Bulls, having been away as his son, Alex, had heart surgery.

MISC.: The Rays have homered in 11 straight games, four shy of their record. … Kelly Johnson is tied for the majors lead with four outfield assists.

Comments
What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

PORT CHARLOTTE — Going against popular opinion, here's an odd thought to ponder:What if the Rays actually know what they're doing?The deal agreed to Wednesday afternoon with veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez — one year for a, hefty for them...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

Denard Span on new Ray Anthony Banda: ‘Guy is pretty legit’

PORT CHARLOTTE — 2B Nick Solak reported to camp Wednesday, while LHP Anthony Banda, the other player acquired in the Steven Souza Jr. trade, is on his way.Banda, whose fastball hits the mid-90s, pitched in eight games last season with the Diamo...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

Dick Vitale to Rays owner Stu Sternberg: Sell the team

PORT CHARLOTTE – Dick Vitale, the Rays most visible and, as of late, vocal fan, took to Twitter and the 620-AM airwaves Wednesday morning and later in the day in a phone call to the Times to blast his local baseball team.ESPN's lead college bas...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

Rays move fast to fill void, sign Carlos Gomez

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays moved quickly to fill the void created by Tuesday's trade of RF Steven Souza Jr., agreeing to a one-year deal Wednesday afternoon with veteran OF Carlos Gomez.The deal, pending a physical, will pay Gomez $4-million...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The brawls new Rays rightfielder Carlos Gomez inspired

The brawls new Rays rightfielder Carlos Gomez inspired

The Rays new rightfielder Carlos Gomez is, as the Times' Rays beat writer Marc Topkin describes him, a "somewhat emotional" player.That reputation in part comes from his role in inspiring a handful of benches-clearing brawls. Here's a look at few of ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
With Souza the latest to be gone, what do Rays have left? Well …

With Souza the latest to be gone, what do Rays have left? Well …

The first question to ask, understandably, is who do the Rays have left?And, after they Tuesday added 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. to the list of departees that had just included Corey Dickerson and Jake Odorizzi, the next to ask is what do they ha...
Published: 02/21/18
Another question for Rays after trading Souza: What to do with these …

Another question for Rays after trading Souza: What to do with these …

Having traded 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona, Rays baseball officials are now looking for a way to replace him on the field.And now Rays marketing officials also have to decide what to do with the spot he held in their lineup, having sched...
Published: 02/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: The Rays fire sale is on

The fire sale is on for the Rays, as they trade Steven Souza, Jr., to Arizona to trim more payroll for this season.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud says he feels bad for Rays fans, as many of their favorite players have left the team, including Ev...
Published: 02/21/18
Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

Steven Souza trade: Instant reaction to the Rays latest deal

The Rays traded right fielder Steven Souza, Jr., their 2017 team MVP, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in a three-team deal for Arizona's No. 2 prospect, lefty Anthony Banda, Yankees infield prospect Nick Solak and two players to be named...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18
Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

Rays trade team MVP Steven Souza Jr. in three-team deal that nets prospects

PORT CHARLOTTE — Evan Longoria traded in December. Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson dumped over the weekend. Then, in a stunning move Tuesday night, 2017 team MVP Steven Souza Jr. shipped to Arizona as part of a three-team deal that netted onl...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18