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Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria returns to the lineup from his finger infection

Giving thanks: Bob Kendrick, left, VP of marketing for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, embraces manager Joe Maddon after the Rays presented a check and Maddon received an award.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Giving thanks: Bob Kendrick, left, VP of marketing for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, embraces manager Joe Maddon after the Rays presented a check and Maddon received an award.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It didn't make up for the disappointment of missing the All-Star Game, but 3B Evan Longoria's return to the Rays lineup went well Friday.

Longoria said the issues from the right ring-finger infection that sidelined him Tuesday had diminished to the point of being "just like a paper cut," and he treated it that way, looking good at the plate (two hits, including the go-ahead homer) and in the field while wearing a small bandage.

"I had no doubts going into the game," he said. "Minus the results, my finger felt good. I got a ground ball on defense and felt fine, and all the swings I took tonight were painless."

Longoria had to deal with more than the pain from the infection and the incision to drain it. He had issues with lymph nodes in his arm and received two IV treatments while in St. Louis.

"I had a little bit of swelling just above my elbow and some on the top of my hand, and when that happens, that's kind of the line of defense for fighting infection," Longoria said. "I've never had that, and the doctor had never seen it, so that was kind of like, we need to do something in a hurry here to get this before it gets too bad, so they did the right thing … and knocked it out."

Guest of honor: Manager Joe Maddon presented a $5,000 donation from the Rays organization to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum after touring the facility with his coaches, communications vice president Rick Vaughn and others.

Maddon, who received the 2008 C.I. Taylor Legacy Award for being the top AL manager, said the visit was educational and an interesting experience.

"It's a very powerful place," he said after the presentation. "And it's really well done."

Catching on: C Dioner Navarro returned to action, saying he felt fine after being struck on the mask by a foul ball July 11. Maddon wants to proceed cautiously given the concerns over a concussion and is talking about playing Navarro every other day for a short while.

Moving parts: RHP Grant Balfour arrived late Friday afternoon after going home to Australia for his grandfather's funeral. C John Jaso, who was called up with Balfour on the bereavement list and Navarro shaky, was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

K-club: LHP Scott Kazmir's mechanics are in order and his mind is clear, so that when he takes the mound tonight for his fourth start since coming off the disabled list, it will be simply to throw the ball where he wants.

"Like it used to be," he said.

Kazmir is looking forward to what he called "a big second half" and thinks the potential to have his fastball, slider and changeup all working puts him in position to win four or five straight.

"That's what it feels like," he said. "To be honest, I'm looking forward to just being able to be confident with all my pitches."

Kazmir is 0-1 with a 5.51 ERA in three starts since coming off the DL, working 5, 5 and 61/3 innings. His goals are to be more efficient with his pitches and work deeper into games.

Rehab report: LHP Brian Shouse, out since late May with a left elbow strain, was impressive enough in Thursday's first rehab outing for Class A Charlotte that he could rejoin the Rays within a week. All they need to see, Maddon said, is that Shouse can work on back-to-back days.

C Shawn Riggans (right shoulder tendinitis) made his first appearance behind the plate for Charlotte on Thursday; there is no timetable for his return.

Miscellany: Joe Nelson, a former Royal, got his first win in 28 appearances at Kauffman Stadium. … Longoria, LF Carl Crawford and LHP David Price all reported having a grand time at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday. … RHP Chris Mason, the Double-A pitcher of the year in 2007, was released from Montgomery; RHP Matt Gorgen, 4-0 with a 0.57 ERA with 15 saves for Charlotte, was promoted.

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria returns to the lineup from his finger infection 07/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, July 18, 2009 12:54am]
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