Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria out through weekend due to strained quad

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays 3B Evan Longoria will miss this weekend's series against the Mariners with a left quadriceps strain and might not return to the lineup until the middle of next week, manager Joe Maddon said Friday.

The injury occurred while Longoria was starting a double play Thursday against the Yankees. Maddon said the strain is moderate and Longoria, who leads the team with 104 RBIs and is hitting .294 with 22 homers, will be evaluated Monday.

Until Friday, Longoria had been out of the lineup just one other time this season. He was rested May 23 at Houston.

Sean Rodriguez played third base Friday. Maddon said Dan Johnson could see some starts there, including tonight against RHP Doug Fister.

Johnson played third for Triple-A Durham quite a bit this season, and Maddon got positive reports from manager Charlie Montoyo.

"(Montoyo) really liked him over there," Maddon said. "He said (Johnson) played an above-average third base during the Triple-A season. … I know D.J. will be up to the challenge."

20 unlikely: LHP David Price, who picked up his 18th win Thursday in New York, might not get a chance for No. 20. Price has two scheduled starts left. But one is the regular-season finale Oct. 3 in Kansas City. And Maddon said if the Rays have clinched a playoff berth by then, they would start someone else and get Price ready for the playoffs. Game 1 of the American League Division Series is Oct. 6.

STAYING PUT: With RHP Wade Davis having an abbreviated outing Tuesday in New York (33 pitches over 31/3 innings) because of a rain delay of 2 hours, 11 minutes, Maddon toyed with the idea of getting him work in the bullpen this weekend or moving up his next start from Monday.

But Maddon said that after consulting with Davis and pitching coach Jim Hickey, he decided to keep the pitcher on his usual track. Davis has looked good since coming off the disabled list in August and has won his past seven decisions.

Davis said he doesn't believe he will need extra work to stay sharp. He plans to throw his regular between-starts bullpen session today.

IN THE SWING: Struggling 1B Carlos Peña returned to the lineup after sitting for two games because Maddon wanted him to rearrange how he was thinking.

Peña, who entered Friday hitting .201, said he took the benching in stride, went over a lot of video and is "very optimistic" he can finish the season strong. His father, Felipe, told him, "The darkest time of night is right before dawn," and the ever-optimistic Peña took the advice to heart.

"Just press on," said Peña, who went 0-for-3 with a walk Friday, "because the sunlight is just around the corner. … There's no sense in dwelling or stressing over what has happened. It's already happened. Now I'm thinking about, 'What are we doing to get better.' "

ROCCO READY: Maddon said he'd like to get RHP Dan Wheeler, OF Brad Hawpe and OF/DH Rocco Baldelli more involved during the last week of the regular season.

Baldelli, who Thursday made his first start in rightfield since getting called up Sept. 1, is a special case because he's limited by an illness that causes muscle fatigue. But Maddon said he came out of Thursday well and told Baldelli he could have served as DH on Friday. Maddon chose to go with Willy Aybar due to the matchup with LHP Jason Vargas, but Baldelli was available to pinch-hit.

Going green: The Rays and the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council partnered with the Pasco County Education Foundation to make James M. Marlowe Elementary more environmentally friendly. The New Port Richey school should be able to save energy, resources and money.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria out through weekend due to strained quad 09/24/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 25, 2010 8:22pm]

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