Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria pleased with recovery progress

ST. PETERSBURG — Though Rays 3B Evan Longoria has not resumed baseball activities and there's no timetable for his return, he insists he hasn't had a huge setback and is encouraged that rest was the best decision for his partially torn left hamstring.

Longoria, hurt April 30 while stealing a base, said he hasn't done much since his precautionary decision to end a minor-league rehab stint June 18. But after admittedly trying to do "too much, too soon," he's now moving in the "right direction."

"We're not back to square one by any means," Longoria said. "I've actually been feeling better these past couple days than I had at any point throughout the rehab, even when I went out to play.

"I think it's just a matter of fighting the urge to go hard right now and letting it heal up to 100 percent."

Longoria said he has "accelerated" his workouts over the past couple of days but will wait to get direction from the athletic training staff when he can do batting practice and fielding drills.

Longoria said he'd have to do them and baserunning before starting another rehab assignment but believes those steps will "go a lot faster" this time because he feels so good.

"I was telling (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield), at times I didn't feel really good but I told (the media) I felt really good," Longoria said. "And I'm telling you right now that I'm feeling really good this time — and I'm not crossing my fingers behind my back. It's positive. I feel like something has been lifted off my shoulders at this point."

SUPER SAM: OF Sam Fuld (right wrist surgery) was happy with how he felt after going through batting practice Friday for the first time and said he could start a minor-league rehab assignment before the All-Star break.

Fuld appears ahead of schedule as he was expected to be out 4-5 months after his April procedure to stabilize a tendon. Fuld plans to join the Rays on their road trip next week to Cleveland, where he'll have a follow-up appointment with Tom Graham, who performed the surgery.

Manager Joe Maddon said Fuld likely would need a maximum minor-league stint, 20 days, before returning.

"I worked really hard to get here," Fuld said. "I was optimistic from the beginning that I'd beat the vague deadline but still haven't gotten to where I need to be.

"But if you would have told me three months ago I'd be at this point, I'd be really happy."

COMING BACK: The Rays bullpen will get bolstered today as RHP Kyle Farnsworth is expected to be activated from the disabled list and RHP Joel Peralta reinstated from his suspension.

Farnsworth hasn't pitched since straining his right elbow during spring training but will likely join Peralta as another late-inning, set-up man for closer Fernando Rodney. Peralta served eight games for having pine tar on his glove June 19 against the Nationals. The Rays had to play a man short.

With RHP Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder fatigue) also rejoining the Rays today, RHP Brandon Gomes and LHP Cesar Ramos were sent to Triple-A Durham after Thursday's game. That returns the team to its usual mix of five starters and seven relievers.

STEPPING IN: Hellickson was reticent to go on the DL but enters tonight's start believing the two-week break could help him in the long run.

"It feels 100 percent," he said. "It was just a little tired there for a little bit."

Hellickson felt it was more of a precautionary move and kept fresh with a couple of bullpen sessions.

LINING UP: INF Sean Rodriguez wasn't in the lineup for the second straight game, but Maddon said it was more to get INF Will Rhymes a start in the field.

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria pleased with recovery progress 06/29/12 [Last modified: Saturday, June 30, 2012 1:12am]

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