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Tight pitches don't bother Tampa Bay Rays' Longoria

ST. PETERSBURG — The pitch that hit 3B Evan Longoria in the left elbow in the eighth inning Monday may have appeared to sting initially, but thanks to protective padding, it wasn't bothering him too much afterward.

"I wear a pad for a reason, and it hit me there," he said. "It was one of those that got me in the right spot."

Longoria also wasn't bothered about having to dodge a fastball up and in by A.J. Burnett in the first inning, instead pointing out how the Yankees right-hander has done that in the past to establish the inside corner. "You've got to stay over the plate against him, and I didn't read anything into that," Longoria said. "He's just a mentally tough and physically tough guy, and he's going to try to do what he has to do to win a ballgame."

Longoria, however, was lamenting the missed opportunities he had at the plate, striking out with a runner on third in the first and hitting into a double play in the sixth when the Rays had runners on the corners with no outs.

"He really didn't give us many opportunities to score," Longoria said of Burnett. "I had one early, messed that one up. … Actually, I messed all of them up. I grounded into a double play and kind of killed that rally in the (sixth). (Burnett is) tough, throws to both sides of the plate and throws hard."

no worries: With trade rumors swirling around LHP Scott Kazmir, he said his agent, Brian Peters, approached executive VP Andrew Friedman about the issue and appeared reassured by the response.

Kazmir, 25, has said he wants to stay with the Rays, which is why he signed a three-year extension last season. And the impression he got from Friedman was that the rumors are merely that.

"It was very vague; it was nothing," Kazmir said. "It was just like the talks can happen from wherever, but there's really nothing to it."

Kazmir, who starts tonight, said the rumors haven't disrupted his focus. And Kazmir isn't concerned about his left forearm, which was bothered by tightness during his last start; he said he feels 100 percent.

WELCOME BACK: LHP Brian Shouse was excited to get activated from the disabled list Monday after a left elbow strain forced him to miss 53 games, longer than he had expected to be out.

And Shouse, 40, is equally as eager to get back on the mound again after a disappointing return Monday, when he gave up four runs (including two homers) in the ninth.

Shouse said he felt fine physically, it was just a matter of location. He appeared headed for another scoreless outing with two flyouts to start the inning, but Nick Swisher turned on an inside pitch for a solo homer.

Shouse said the most disappointing thing was a three-run homer by Johnny Damon on a slider "that wasn't even close." "That's what happens when you miss your spots," Shouse said.

Shouse went in having given up six runs all season (141/3 innings) and two homers.

RHP Dale Thayer was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Manager Joe Maddon said he likes that with Shouse back, he has three left-handed relievers (Randy Choate and J.P. Howell are the others) he can spot in difficult moments.

MEDICAL MATTERS: 2B Akinori Iwamura, rehabilitating from left knee surgery, said he felt good after running Monday afternoon, and he plans to take ground balls for the first time today. Iwamura started agility drills a couple of days ago and has also been doing long toss and hitting off a batting tee in the cage. Maddon said the Rays will know more in mid August when Iwamura can begin a rehab assignment.

MISCELLANY: Maddon started backup C Michel Hernandez due to Dioner Navarro's numbers against Burnett (5-for-25, HR). … Scattered single tickets remain for Saturday's game against Kansas City. … The Rays hold their second broadcast auction tonight. … Monday's attendance (33,442) was the second-largest Monday crowd at the Trop this season (after the April 13 home opener).

Tight pitches don't bother Tampa Bay Rays' Longoria 07/27/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 6:49am]
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