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Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria says he's close to beginning rehab assignment

NEW YORK — 3B Evan Longoria said he could start a rehab assignment by the end of the team's road trip and expects to rejoin the Rays around the middle of the month.

Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria, out since May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring, would likely need a seven- to 10-day assignment before returning.

"It's feeling good," Longoria said. "It's at the point where I'm ready to push it. I'm ready to see where we can get on a daily basis. I think we're past all the bad stuff. It's taken a lot of steps forward in the last week and a half."

Longoria is traveling with the team and said the big tests will be in the next couple of days, with acceleration drills and base­running, before he can start his assignment. He said he hasn't missed much hitting and has taken ground balls the past week and a half. But he hasn't run past 80-90 percent.

"A lot of it is being able to get past the mental block of, 'Am I going to feel that again?' " Longoria said. "And that's probably not the case. It's just something, that mental hurdle, that you have to get over when you have stuff like this happen."

Longoria, who has dealt with hamstring issues before, understands it's a challenge knowing how to avoid the same type of injury again.

"It's my cross to bear, I only know how to play one way, and that's 100 percent every day," Longoria said. "It's always a learning experience when you have something like this. I think hopefully I can teach myself when in fact you do need to go 110 percent and those times when you can maybe help not being in a situation like this again and minimize the effort in a situation that may not need it."

Longoria says it has been tough to be away, but he is impressed how his teammates have stepped up and stayed around the top of the American League East.

"It's incredible," he said. "I think our position speaks for itself, but it's pretty crazy to me that we really have not played good baseball at all. I don't feel like we've even played to a percentage of potential that we're able to play. I feel like we've really skated along, we've gotten some lucky victories. They're all good wins, but we've been lucky at times, and pitching has really kept us in a lot."

UP AND DOWN: The Rays activated OF/1B Brandon Allen from the disabled list then designated him for assignment. Allen must clear waivers before accepting an assignment to Durham. The Rays also have 10 days to trade him.

Allen, who has been on the DL since May 10 with a right quad strain, batted .154 in seven games with the Rays, picking up a couple of big hits, including a walkoff homer against the Angels April 26. "This guy helped us win about three games in the limited time he was with us," Maddon said. "We'd love to keep him."

PRICE CHECK: There are a lot of reasons for LHP David Price's recent roll of six consecutive starts of seven innings or more, such as his strike-throwing ability and success with runners in scoring position.

But Maddon said the key has been Price's excellent fastball command, with his average velocity (95.1 mph) second highest in the majors.

"I've never really thrown this hard in my life for a duration of the game," Price said. "That's pretty neat, I enjoy it. My body feels good right now, so does my arm."

DRAFT BREEZE: The Rays stocked up on college pitchers and catchers on the third and final day of the draft. "We came away from this really excited after (Tuesday), and we added some more guys (Wednesday)," scouting director R.J. Harrison said.

MISCELLANY: RHP James Shields left for California to tend to a family matter. The Rays expect him to join the team in Miami. … Maddon said there's no update on INF Jeff Keppinger (broken right toe). … DH Luke Scott got the day off.

Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria

Tampa Bay Rays' Evan Longoria says he's close to beginning rehab assignment 06/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 10:57am]

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