Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria 'feeling like a new man'

PORT CHARLOTTE

This year is going to be different for Evan Longoria.

There's the baby he and girlfriend Jaime Edmondson are expecting just before opening day. The attention, and expectations, that come with his $100 million contract extension. A decision to take on an increased leadership role in the Rays clubhouse.

And the realization that he has to find a way — even if it reluctantly means taking preventative days off — to avoid having another season disrupted by injury.

"This has to come to an end," he said.

Longoria missed more than half of last season with a left hamstring injury, leading to November surgery — which left him "feeling like a new man" — and his early arrival at Rays spring training, which formally starts today with a workout for pitchers and catchers.

He missed a month the previous season with an oblique strain, and the last 10 games (and was limited in the playoffs) the one before that with a quad strain. Plus, he had a finger infection in the middle of the 2009 season and a broken wrist as a 2008 rookie. Overall, he has missed more than 20 percent of the Rays' games in his five seasons.

After seeing Longoria try a series of different conditioning programs and routines, the Rays are planning to find ways to get him more rest. With last year a sledgehammer reminder of how valuable he is to have on the field, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they haven't committed to a specific plan (such as DH, pinch-hit, total rest) but, "I'm sure we'll be a little bit more proactive in terms of giving him days."

And as much as Longoria prides himself as an everyday gladiator, he is willing to make the concession.

"If I have to take a day off here and there to not go on the DL and not have to deal with that kind of stress or worry, I'll do it," he said. "Trying to avoid the DL is going to be the biggest thing for me."

But he won't necessarily be happy about it.

"I'm 27 years old," he said. "It's getting to the point, I shouldn't have to take these days off. I'm still young. That's the last thing on my mind, having to worry about taking days off. I can do that eight years from now, but not now."

He found inspiration in the play of oft-injured veteran Carlos Beltran, who "kind of had that stigma, too," and at 35 had a strong season for St. Louis: "It's doable as late into his career as he is, so you hope that for me I can have five, six, seven years just like that."

As "really good" as Longoria said he feels and has done running, he will be watched closely and questioned often. And given that he has yet to try running the bases, he admitted he "might take a couple steps back" in the first week or two of camp.

Meanwhile, he is making a concerted effort to be more of a leader in a clubhouse that lost veterans James Shields and B.J. Upton. For Longoria, that started with the unprecedented act of actually looking at the roster of who was coming to camp, and he plans to follow through with introductions.

"I just told myself coming into spring this year that I would do a better job at meeting the new guys and just making myself available," he said.

The contract will bring some attention, along with some high-profile appearances (like the ESPN The Magazine photoshoot) and a hand in a new sports bar venture in Tampa.

There also is all that is involved with the baby girl due the day before the April 2 opener.

"It's been fun," Longoria said. "I think it's all going to be good. It really hasn't put my mind at a stressful point. I feel great, I'm happy to be here. I think when it all happens there, will be a little bit of weight lifted off of me. But it's not enough that's going to drag me down right now."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

Brent Honeywell, Willy Adames lead Rays prospects in Baseball Americaís top 100

The Rays had two players in the top 20 and six overall in Baseball America's annual ranking of the game's top 100 prospects.RHP Brent Honeywell heads the Rays contingent at No. 14 with shortstop Willy Adames at No. 19.The other ranked Rays are 1B/LHP...
Published: 01/22/18
Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

Why free agency hasnít turned out fun (yet) for ex-Rays pitcher Alex Cobb

RHP Alex Cobb never expected to be going into late January without knowing where he was going for spring training.The longtime Ray's first foray into free agency hasn't gone as planned, much like the 150-plus others waiting for something to give in a...
Published: 01/20/18
Updated: 01/21/18
Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson lends a hand to help families dealing with cancer

Rays infielder Daniel Robertson has much to be excited about heading into his second season in the majors.But before packing for spring training, he took some time last weekend to provide help for families needing assistance in dealing with cancer.Hi...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Ex-Rays star Longoria dons Giants jersey, looks forward to full-stadium environment in San Francisco

Longtime Rays star Evan Longoria was formally introduced in San Francisco today, adding the visual of him pulling on his new Giants jersey, switching to No. 10 since 3 is retired.Longoria said he welcomed the chance to play on a contending team stock...
Published: 01/19/18
What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

What do Rays look like now? What will they look like March 29?

ST. PETERSBURG — Since entering an off-season planning major change and pledging to be open to "anything and everything,'' the Rays have made a few minor moves and one massive one in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to San Francisco....
Published: 01/19/18
Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

Reminder: Rays spring tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m.

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale today at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at the...
Published: 01/19/18
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Tampa Bay Rays 2018 spring training schedule

Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd., Port Charlotte, 33948Get tickets here: (941) 206-4487Pitchers report: Feb. 13. Squad reports: Feb. 19TEAM SCHEDULE(games at 1:05 unless noted)(ss - split squad)Feb 23 at Orioles (ss) (Sarasota)Feb 23 PIRATE...
Published: 01/19/18
Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Ex-Phillies, Indians manager Charlie Manuel to get Ted Williams Museum award

Former Phillies and Indians manager Charlie Manuel will receive the Ted Williams Lifetime Achievement Award on Feb. 10 in Clearwater.The honor is bestowed by the Ted Williams Museum at its annual Hitters Hall of Fame induction, moving this year from ...
Published: 01/19/18
Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Former Rays OF Matt Joyce to hold annual charity baseball camp at North Brandon complex

Armwood High product Matt Joyce, the current A's and former Rays outfielder, hosts his ninth annual Sweet Swingin' charity baseball camp for kids 6-12 on Sunday at the North Brandon youth baseball complex (2929 S Kingsway Rd, Seffner).Registration st...
Published: 01/18/18
Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

Rays spring tickets go on sale Friday

The Rays will put single game tickets for spring training home games on sale Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com.The Rays are playing 14 home games in Port Charlotte, starting with the Feb. 23 opener vs. Pittsburgh. Tickets will be available at th...
Published: 01/17/18