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Rays' Longoria clears air with Shields

Before the season, Evan Longoria said former teammate James Shields, above, was stuck in the Rays’ bad days too often.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times (2012)

Before the season, Evan Longoria said former teammate James Shields, above, was stuck in the Rays’ bad days too often.

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.

Rays' Longoria clears air with Shields 04/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 26, 2013 1:47am]
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