CLEVELAND — Having already played more than two months without Evan Longoria, the Rays are preparing to be without their slugging third baseman until sometime in August.
"I have no idea when … he's going to be able to play again," manager Joe Maddon said Saturday. "It's such a hard one to create conjecture with, other than if you wanted to bend to the negative side on this one, you may have to, as opposed to the positive side of it, meaning that it's probably going to take more as opposed to less time to get him back on the field."
Longoria partially tore his left hamstring April 30, with the original prognosis he would be out six to eight weeks. He tried to accelerate his return last month but tweaked the hamstring during a June 18 rehabilitation game for Triple-A Durham when a teammate — yet to be identified publicly — bumped into him as he was stretching in the dugout, just another episode in the Rays' 2012 saga of misfortune.
He won't resume baseball activities until after the Monday-Thursday All-Star break — and a trip to Los Angeles to attend the ESPY Awards — and after seven to 10 days of drills could start another rehab assignment, undoubtedly at a slower pace, potentially rejoining the Rays mid August.
"August is better than not at all," CF B.J. Upton said. "Obviously we need him back. … But the main thing is him taking the time that he needs to get that thing 100 percent."
The Rays have used seven third basemen in Longoria's absence, and those players had combined to hit .231 with three homers and 26 RBIs in 60 games while making 15 errors.
Maddon talks daily with executive VP Andrew Friedman and said "there's nothing really in the makings right now" to address Longoria's extended absence. The Rays have claimed Brooks Conrad off waivers and traded for Drew Sutton, who later was designated for assignment and lost on waivers to the Pirates.
"Looking at all of our options, which Andrew does, you've got a trade deadline coming up (July 31, for nonwaiver deals). We normally don't do anything at that time," Maddon said. "We'll just have to see how this plays out for the rest of the month. Maybe somebody will surface from within and they can take that job and run with it."
Maddon acknowledged that hamstring recoveries are hard to predict: "It's a tough injury to overcome and a tough injury to battle back from."
MORE MEDICAL: OF/DH Hideki Matsui (left hamstring tightness) continues to run better but remains limited to pinch-hitting. … OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) started a projected 20-day rehab assignment by going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and playing centerfield for advanced Class A Charlotte. … RHP Chris Archer, impressive in two fill-in starts with the Rays, left his outing with Triple-A Durham after one inning for precautionary reasons with left oblique tightness.
MISCELLANY: The post-break pitching rotation should be set today. … Durham's Stephen Vogt, who hit .364, was named the Rays' top minor-league player for June and Bowling Green RHP Roberto Gomez, 5-0, 1.34, the top pitcher. … INF Elliot Johnson, one of the Rays' most productive hitters, got the night off but will play today.