Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays will give Longoria more at-bats hitting third

BOSTON — Manager Joe Maddon flipped Evan Longoria into the No. 3 spot in the batting order ahead of Ben Zobrist for the first time this season on Wednesday and said he may continue doing so, at least against left-handers. Longoria hopes it's the start of something.

In theory, Longoria, who had been hitting fourth, should be more productive at No. 3 because he is likely to see better pitches with Zobrist behind him. In reality, Longoria feels more comfortable in the third spot for, among other reasons, the set routine of knowing he will bat in the first inning and the opportunity to get to the plate more often.

"We've talked a lot about it and I've told him that I'm comfortable in the 3 spot, and that's where I'd like to be," Longoria said. "But like we said at the beginning of the year, wherever they feel is the best spot for me, then that's where I'll be. It's not my decision."

Even though Longoria has a .345 average, he doesn't appear to be getting many good pitches to hit. "I haven't seen a whole lot of pitches over the plate in the past week," he said.

The result? A power outage, as all 10 of his hits have been singles, several to the opposite field, and the nine games are the most he has gone into a season without a home run.

"I just think they're not giving him pitches to hit for power with; I think that's part of the issue," Maddon said. "His swing is outstanding."

IF THERE'S A WIL: There are no indications of any consideration to call up top prospect OF Wil Myers from Triple-A Durham, but as of today Myers has spent enough time in the minors (12 days) to delay free agency an extra year until after his seventh season. The Rays likely would have to wait until at least late June to avoid having him be eligible for a fourth year of arbitration.

ALEX THE GREAT: RHP Alex Cobb followed up his strong spring with a solid first outing of the regular season.

But tonight he pitches at the not-so-friendly confines of Fenway Park, where he is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in two starts but doesn't feel "extremely comfortable."

"I've had some decent success, but it hasn't been my crispest performances," he said.

Cobb said his improved curve has made a difference in getting ahead of hitters.

WHAT DEMISE? Maddon said all spring that he didn't buy the story line that the Red Sox would be bad again, noting their solid pitching and improved clubhouse chemistry. "They've got a good group makeupwise, and that's the part I thought was most compelling," he said.

MISCELLANY: Rain is forecast for Boston most of the day and into tonight, with temperatures in the low 40s. … DH Luke Scott hopes to advance his rehab from a calf strain to running the bases today.

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