Evan Longoria had heard all the stories, so he wasn't sure what to expect, either.
But after spending a good portion of his offseason working out with Manny Ramirez in Arizona, Longoria is now among those anticipating good things, and good behavior, from the dreadlocked one.
"It was good; it was fun," Longoria said. "He hasn't been 'the' Manny — he still jokes a lot and he loves to have fun and he's fun to be around, but he hasn't been that guy I've seen in the past where he's all joking around."
Longoria was impressed by what Ramirez has been doing, too.
"I've seen the way he's been working out, and his intensity and his intent, and I think he's right where he needs to be," Longoria said. "He looks great, and he's driven.
"He doesn't have any 'proving' to do, but maybe for the skeptics that are out there that he doesn't have it anymore, I think he's determined to prove them wrong."
Add in the consistency that LF Johnny Damon brings, and the intimidation factor Kyle Farnsworth adds to the bullpen, and Longoria likes the feel of the retooled team.
"We're going into it with some pretty good guys," he said.
CC-ING RED: Former Rays OF Carl Crawford makes no secret of his excitement about playing in front of the Red Sox's rabid fans in contrast to the Trop.
He told USA Today how tough it was coming back hyped up after a big road trip, "then you look up at the (empty) stands and say, 'Are you serious?' It gets you down. You want the energy the other teams have, and you don't have it. But in Boston, what I hear is you can have a broken arm, you hear all of those people screaming and yelling, and you forget about that arm and you're playing. I can't wait."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Troubled former Rays OF Elijah Dukes, according to a WFLA-Ch. 8 report, is launching a career as a rapper under the name Fly Eli. … As if wild boar and raccoons hadn't caused enough problems at the Port Charlotte spring facility, now there is an issue with bats, with ABC Action News reporting an infestation of thousands. … Sounds like manager Joe Maddon's spring theme will be "Another way" — as in, after all the changes, the Rays just have to find one. … Longoria and infield coach Tom Foley had good initial reviews Friday after checking out the new Trop AstroTurf. … Nonroster 1B Casey Kotchman has been impressive, according to someone who has seen his workouts, regaining his batting stroke, and with power. … RHP Matt White, who couldn't fulfill the promise of his $10 million bonus with the Rays due to injury, returns to Al Lang Field this week for his debut as pitching coach for the University of Michigan. … As part of Saturday's Fan Fest at the Trop, 1-foot squares of the old FieldTurf will be sold for $25, as well as pieces of "championship" champagne-soaked clubhouse carpet, with proceeds to charity, including a fund for the fallen St. Petersburg police officers. … In addition to a series of Young Guns TV commercials for Gillette, Longoria has a video spot for the MLB 2K11 game. … GM Brian Sabean said the Giants were close to a deal for SS Jason Bartlett before he was traded to the Padres.