PORT CHARLOTTE — Though veteran OF Eric Hinske is no longer a Ray, his impact is still felt in the clubhouse.
Just ask 3B Evan Longoria.
Longoria was back to his usual routine Thursday, one day after he left a workout early with lingering discomfort from a wisdom tooth extraction. That routine, from his approach in batting practice to his preparation, was molded a lot by Hinske, who signed with the Pirates in the offseason. Longoria, 23, heeded Hinske's advice — "Never pass up your first fortune" — when he signed his long-term contract extension last season and sees Hinske's handprint on his daily activities.
"He was the perfect guy for me to model myself after," Longoria said. "The thing I do use every day, which I got from him, is my routine, in the cage. We went over it day in and day out. And it's never changed."
Longoria might not have to change his spring schedule, either, as he said it's his "assumption" he won't be playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Longoria, on the provisional roster, said he last spoke with manager Davey Johnson a week ago but hasn't heard since about his status. Final rosters have to be in by Tuesday, and with veteran 3Bs Chipper Jones and David Wright already on the roster, "I think they're just gonna go based off seniority," Longoria said.
"Those guys were chosen before me, and I think if they want to play, they're probably going to be the two guys that'll be on the roster," he said.
Take it easy: LH reliever J.P. Howell, who plans to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic next month, said his spring workouts haven't changed dramatically as he prepares for it. Howell said the biggest thing is he takes just one day off between bullpens, instead of two. But Howell, 25, who had a breakout season last year in which he tied for the major-league lead in relief innings (891/3), said knowing how he felt in October last year has helped him stay careful in not going full throttle so early.
"It's been easy because I look at how long the season is," Howell said. "Since I know that, I know not to just go after it right from the shoot, 'cause I know it will get me in the end. It'll bite me."
Quotable: OF Matt Joyce, on throwing out the first pitch tonight at 6:30 for the North Brandon Little League, where the former Armwood standout used to play as a kid: "I might throw a curveball," Joyce said, smiling. "Or a knuckleball."
Miscellany: RHP Juan Salas, designated for assignment Feb. 12, has been traded to the Indians for minor-league 2B Isaias Velasquez, who hit .281 with 40 runs in 64 games for Class A Mahoning Valley. … INF Ray Olmedo, a minor-league invitee whose arrival was delayed due to visa issues, was in camp Thursday. … Manager Joe Maddon said the team might do live batting practice in Saturday's workout.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]