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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.

Tampa Bay Rays don't want to rush back Evan Longoria 06/10/12 [Last modified: Sunday, June 10, 2012 12:04am]

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