Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays don't want to rush back Evan Longoria

MIAMI — 3B Evan Longoria was encouraged by how good he felt after he ran the bases Saturday, a big test in his recovery from a partially torn left hamstring.

But it appears as though Longoria won't be able to start a rehab assignment until Wednesday, at the earliest, as the Rays want him to run again Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Longoria had hoped to start a rehab assignment by the end of this road trip and return by the middle of this month.

"It's a struggle between me and them sometimes," Longoria said. "I understand that their job is to be cautious and get me back to stay back for the whole year, and that's definitely my goal, too. We've been going back and forth as far as when I'm going to come back and play."

Longoria, on the disabled list since May 3, said he ran about as hard as he would during a game, though he admitted "it's tough to tell what game speed is when you're not playing a game." Longoria has been hitting for the past three weeks and taking ground balls for nearly two, so he believes he'd need just 2-4 days of minor-league games to be ready.

Manager Joe Maddon has said Longoria would likely need at least a weeklong rehab assignment before coming back, noting they have to build him up to play a full nine innings and on back-to-back days.

"We're interested in playing the last game of the season this year and winning it, wherever that may be, and we're not going to do it without him," Maddon said. "So it's really important that we be patient right now, and make sure we follow the procedures and practices that permits him to be there when we need him the most."

CATCHING ON: Maddon has been impressed with how C Jose Lobaton has played since coming off the disabled list May 28, hitting .375 (6-for-16) in nine games, including his two doubles Friday night.

Maddon said Lobaton is showing good patience at the plate and has been more technically sound defensively, specifically at blocking balls.

"Right now, he's playing at a very high level," Maddon said.

DAMAGE CONTROL: RHP James Shields enters today's start winless in his past three outings, including allowing a combined 13 runs in his past two. But nine of those runs came over two innings, something Shields is cognizant of improving.

"I'm trying to get rid of that bad inning," Shields said. "My last two outings have come down to one inning, and I'm trying to minimize my damage in that one inning. You take away 2-3 innings of my last couple outings, and I'm doing pretty decent. But, other than that, I'm fine."

Shields will also get his chance to hit. He is batting .188 (6-for-32) in his career, including 0-for-8 (with five strikeouts) last season.

"I don't know whether or not the bat is swinging me or I'm swinging the bat yet," Shields said. "But we'll find out."

DRAFT BREEZE: The Rays signed eight more draft picks: eighth-round C Luke Maile (Kentucky), 18th-round LHP Kevin Brandt (East Carolina), 19th-round 1B Miguel Beltran (Oklahoma City U), 22nd-round Willy Argo (Illinois), 23rd-round 2B Reid Redman (Texas Tech), 32nd-round SS Ben Kline (Embry-Riddle), 34th-round RHP Ryan Garton (Florida Atlantic) and 39th-round RHP Rob Finneran (Bentley).

MINOR MATTERS: RHP Brandon Gomes entered Saturday having allowed just one earned runs in 21 innings for Triple-A Durham. … Durham RHP Chris Archer was named Rays minor-league pitcher of the month for May after going 2-2 in six starts with a 3.38 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 342/3 innings. … Durham INF Juan Miranda was released to make room for OF/1B Brandon Allen.

Comments
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...
Updated: 1 hour ago
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...
Updated: 4 hours ago
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...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Who are Anthony Banda and Nick Solak

So, who did the Rays get back for RF Steven Souza Jr.?LHP Anthony Banda, 24, who appeared in eight games/four starts for the Diamondbacks last season, and 2B Nick Solak, 23, from the Yankees organization in addition to two players to be named later f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

Steven Souza Jr. on Rays’ roster moves: ‘This is not a shocker’

PORT CHARLOTTE — RF Steven Souza Jr. returned to camp Tuesday after missing four days while he went home to Seattle to attend to a family matter.When asked if everything was okay, Souza said, "Right now. We'll just leave it at that."S...
Published: 02/20/18
After whirlwind few days, C.J. Cron joins Rays

After whirlwind few days, C.J. Cron joins Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – C.J. Cron knew he was spending Tuesday night in a Punta Gorda hotel. Beyond that, he knew little of his future with the Rays."I haven't talked to anybody about anything really," Cron said.The right-handed hitting first baseman ...
Published: 02/20/18
Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Who is new Rays 1B/DH C.J. Cron? 10 things to know

Acquired Saturday night from the Angels (for a player to be named – a minor-leaguer, and not a top prospect), 1B/DH C.J. Cron is expected to join the Rays today in Port Charlotte.Here are 10 things to know about him:1. Full name: Christopher Jo...
Published: 02/20/18
Rays tread new turf (literally) for second straight year

Rays tread new turf (literally) for second straight year

PORT CHARLOTTE — Tropicana Field is getting new turf — again.Shaw Sports will replace the surface installed last spring in a mutual decision with the Rays that it did not look as good — from the stands or on TV — as expected.T...
Published: 02/20/18
Longtime fan Dick Vitale sounds off on Rays’ latest roster moves

Longtime fan Dick Vitale sounds off on Rays’ latest roster moves

Longtime and extremely popular ESPN college basketball announcer Dick Vitale is arguably the Rays' most prominent fan.The Lakewood Ranch resident has season tickets adjacent to the visitors' dugout at Tropicana Field and is often seen at Rays games.A...
Published: 02/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is ‘The Ray Tank’ a noun, or a verb?

The name of the Rays’ new blog, "The Ray Tank’’, inadvertently took on new meaning for fans following the departures of Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson this past weekend.Rick Stroud has the latest from Port Charlotte in his latest podcast, as Kevin...
Published: 02/20/18