ST. PETERSBURG — Evan Longoria is ready to go back to playing third base on a permanent basis.
Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays, at least for the rest of this week, will limit Longoria, who missed three months with a left hamstring injury, to every-other-day duty, with his second start tonight.
Longoria said he felt good after playing third Tuesday, leaving as planned after seven innings despite angling to stay in (as the game was 0-0) and even apologizing to starter David Price.
"My legs have felt good, that's the most important thing," Longoria said. "Whatever they want me to do, I'll do at this point, but at some point in the near future I'm going to want to go out and play third base every day.
"It's much easier to get into the rhythm of the game, it's much easier to stay focused. My legs actually felt better (Tuesday) playing than they did (Wednesday) just kind of DH-ing and sitting around between innings."
Though Longoria, who was 1-for-3 Wednesday, has hit only .235 (12-for-51) with nine RBIs in his 14 games since returning Aug. 7, his impact has been dramatic as the Rays are 13-3 and have outscored opponents 90-39.
PITCHING IN: RHP Jeff Niemann will make the last of four scheduled rehab starts on Saturday for Triple-A Durham, though his return to active duty might be pushed back to Sept. 1, when the roster expands. With Sunday's day off — due to the Republican National Convention party at the Trop — the club might shuffle its rotation after LHP David Price and RHP James Shields face the Rangers on Monday and Tuesday, possibly moving LHP Matt Moore up and RHP Alex Cobb back.
IT'S ACADEMIC: OF Sam Fuld, a Stanford economics grad, is considered one of the smartest guys in the clubhouse, but Maddon, Lafayette College attendee, said his headfirst slide into home, albeit successful, after a dash from first on Ben Zobrist's double was "not very intelligent." Said Fuld: "He has every right to call me unintelligent. I agree with him. It probably wasn't that intelligent to go in the first place, with no outs. I probably shouldn't have done it, but it was an instinct play."
OUT OF LINE: After watching replays of the key play in Tuesday's game, 1B Carlos Peña felt the Royals' Jeff Francoeur was definitely in the wrong in the 10th inning by running out of the baseline on his way to first, preventing Peña from being able to corral SS Zobrist's errant throw and leading to the only run.
"That's illegal," Peña said. "But no one called it, no one saw it."
Peña felt it was improper, and perhaps intentional, because with Francoeur running in the grass, Peña was unable to move enough to his left to get to the ball. Francoeur ended up at second.
But actually it wasn't illegal, nor a cause for interference, according to umpiring supervisor Charlie Reliford. The runner is not required to run inside the line (though he runs the risk of other interference issues by not), and there can only be interference if the runner hinders the ball being fielded at the base.
DO-OVER: Cobb said that as soon as he walked off the mound in the third inning of his brutally bad start Saturday in Anaheim, having allowed eight runs on 12 hits, he was trying to forget it and look ahead to his next one tonight. "This game couldn't come quick enough," he said.
MISCELLANY: The Rays will be featured at 9 tonight in the new episode of the NBC Sports Network show Caught Looking, featuring a behind-the-scenes look at the Angels series. … Rays pitchers allowed the Royals 18 hits, 16 singles. … The three-game series drew a total of 32,682. … Royals manager Ned Yost was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. … Fuld and C Jose Lobaton will visit All Children's Hospital today; C Jose Molina on Friday will take a fan grocery shopping at the Northdale Sweetbay.