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Tampa Bay Rays say Evan Longoria nearing another rehab assignment

BALTIMORE — Rays manager Joe Maddon said 3B Evan Longoria had an encouraging workout Tuesday at Camden Yards and is "closer than you think" to a rehab assignment.

Maddon said Longoria, out since May 1 with a partially torn left hamstring, will do another workout today and be re-evaluated, with the possibility a rehab assignment will start soon on this nine-game road trip. Maddon said the rehab stint would be 3-4 games maximum, as it appears Longoria can work his way back earlier as a DH.

"Are we over the hump yet? Not entirely," Maddon said. "But definitely optimistic."

Longoria's full workout Tuesday including running the bases, with Maddon saying he wasn't favoring his leg like before. Longoria had said making the backhand play on a grounder had been an issue, but Maddon said he did it successfully Tuesday.

"If you just came out and watched the whole workout, you'd say there's nothing wrong with this guy at all," Maddon said. "But of course there is."

Maddon said the rehab stint won't be long because "I don't think we're going to count on him playing defense or run a lot, more than just relying on the bat, so that can be a more controllable situation."

TRADE WINDS: The Rays acquired INF Ryan Roberts from the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, giving them a potential fill-in for Longoria until he's ready to resume full-time duties at third base.

Tampa Bay sent Double-A INF Tyler Bortnick to Arizona for Roberts, 31, who will join the Rays today, when the team will need to make a corresponding move to make room.

Roberts, 31, designated for assignment by Arizona, has played parts of six-big league seasons and was batting .250 with six homers and 34 RBIs this season while playing second and third.

The Rays might not be done, as reported Tampa Bay and the Angels have discussed a deal involving RHP James Shields, which could bring CF Peter Bourjos and C Hank Conger in return.

IN THE FULD: OF Sam Fuld was activated from the disabled list to make his season debut, going 1-for-3 with a walk and bunt single while starting in leftfield.

Fuld, sidelined since having right wrist surgery the last week of spring training, said his timing felt right after he batted .161 in 10 rehab games with Class A Charlotte and Triple-A Durham.

"It was a slow process," he said. "But by the end, I felt ready to go."

The Rays will use Fuld as a fourth outfielder/pinch-hitter, with Maddon saying his biggest concern is how sharp he's going to be quickly. But he said there's no reason to believe Fuld, who made a huge impact last year with his defense and hitting early in the season, "can't replicate something along those lines."

To make room for Fuld on the 40-man roster, Longoria was transferred to the 60-day DL.

LINING UP: OF Desmond Jennings returned to the leadoff spot for the first time in about three weeks, going 1-for-5, and Maddon indicated he'll remain there. "I want to believe he's going to be back for good," he said. "I really do believe if we're going to the promised land this year, he has to be at the top of the batting order doing his thing." 1B Carlos Peña didn't start but entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement and went 0-for-1.

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Jeff Niemann (broken right fibula) felt great in his second bullpen session, mixing in his changeup in a 35-pitch session. He will throw another in a few days. … DH Luke Scott (right external oblique strain) is making good progress, though not hitting yet, and is still optimistic of a minimal DL stint.

MISCELLANY: OF Mikie Mahtook, a first-round Rays pick in June 2011, was promoted from Charlotte to Double-A Montgomery.

Tampa Bay Rays say Evan Longoria nearing another rehab assignment 07/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 11:10am]
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