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Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria expects to keep winning

PORT CHARLOTTE — All 3B Evan Longoria has known since coming to the big leagues in 2008 is winning. And he reported to camp Thursday saying he didn't expect that to change.

"I want to win," Longoria said. "I haven't had a losing season, and I don't want that to start now."

Longoria, 25, is about 10 pounds heavier after winter workouts at the Athletes Performance institute in Arizona, a preemptive move given how much weight he lost last season.

While "a little bit surprised" at some of the Rays' offseason moves (the trades of SS Jason Bartlett and RHP Matt Garza), he said he was pleased with the net changes and ready to take on whatever responsibilities necessary in his fourth big-league season.

"I don't even feel any pressure any more, really,' he said. "It's all excitement."

Longoria said he'd prefer to have DH Manny Ramirez behind him in the batting order providing protection but knows manager Joe Maddon will consider all options. Maddon, though, said he was leaning that way with Longoria likely third and Ramirez fourth.

FIRST SCARE: RHP Jeremy Hellickson, the promising prospect expected to replace Garza in the rotation, felt tightness in his right hamstring during stretching but threw his bullpen session with no issues.

"I just didn't stretch it good enough," Hellickson said. "I'm fine. It just tightened up."

TALKING HEADS: Radio broadcaster Dave Wills got a three-year contract extension that keeps him in the booth through 2014. Partner Andy Freed previously signed a new deal that runs through 2013.

"I couldn't be happier with the contract extension and the faith that the Rays organization has in me," Wills said. "I have the best broadcast partner in Andy Freed. And I am excited to continue bringing Rays fans a first-class radio broadcast for years to come."

PEN PAL: LHP Jake McGee, impressive after an August move to the bullpen at Triple A, will remain a reliever, which would seem to greatly increase his chances of making the big-league team, possibly at the start of the season. There was some talk of moving McGee back to a starting role, which almost certainly would have meant going back to Triple-A Durham.

"Jake has a chance to be a real pertinent member of the bullpen," Maddon said.

J.P. DUTY: LHP J.P. Howell not only threw well during his 30-or-so pitch performance in his first bullpen session of camp, but after undergoing shoulder surgery and adding 30 pounds of muscle, he threw differently, no longer falling off the mound at the end of his delivery.

Maddon said he'd like the reliever to continue doing that in games.

"That was great to see, to see him finish on balance," Maddon said. "And I think if he's able to maintain that, you're able to then maintain arm health better."

MISCELLANY: If the Rays add a player (as rumored) to the spring roster, a name to keep in mind is INF/OF Joe Inglett, who played last season in Milwaukee. … Saturday's workout was moved up to 9 a.m. so players have time to get to the FanFest at Tropicana Field. … 2B Sean Rodriguez, OF Brandon Guyer and nonroster INF Felipe Lopez also reported early, meaning only six position players haven't arrived: OF Johnny Damon, INF/OF Ben Zobrist, INF Elliot Johnson, nonroster 1B Casey Kotchman and nonroster INFs Daniel Mayora and Ray Olmedo.

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria expects to keep winning 02/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:16pm]
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