Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Rays Longoria: Health not reason for struggles

ARLINGTON, Texas — Whatever the reason for Rays 3B Evan Longoria's struggles at the plate, it has nothing to do with his health, as he made clear Monday there is no injury, no ache or pain, no ailment or vision issue in play.

"Everything's good," he said. "Couldn't be any better really."

The fact that he has played in every game and has played mostly outstanding defense should show that, but Longoria understands the questions.

In a perverse way, he said having something wrong would make it easier to explain, as he is hitting .250 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs.

"I wish I could say there was something or another, that would make it an easy cop out to say, 'Oh yeah, this is wrong and that's the reason why,' " he said. "The truth of the matter is I've been doing everything I've done the last five-six years to make me successful, and maybe at times even more, and probably put more pressure on."

Manager Joe Maddon said he continues to see signs that Longoria is close to finding his stroke. "As far as I know, zero, there's nothing wrong," he said. "I anticipate good."

Longoria — on pace for a pedestrian 19 homers and 82 RBIs — said the only thing "wrong" is not living up to "everybody else's" expectations.

"But I think that my own personal expectations are probably higher than what everybody already expected me to do anyway," he said. "So it's as tough for me to deal with those things behind closed doors and in my own mind.

"At the end of the year … there may be some fantasy owners that aren't too happy and there may be some Rays fans that aren't thrilled with my personal success or failures, but the reality is I can't do any more.

"I come here every day and try to succeed and try to do the most I can to help the team win, and I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the year and know that I did everything I could."

Longoria said he has not been focusing on his numbers "because I know they're pretty bad," instead on what he can do to help the team win and provide the proper leadership.

KIERMAIER UPDATE: OF Kevin Kiermaier left the game for precautionary reasons a few innings after feeling tightness in his back while sliding into second. He may return tonight.

PROCEDURES: Maddon said he fully understood the rules on changing pitchers when he went toward the mound in the eighth, he was just stalling for time to make sure reliever Joel Peralta was ready. … After Maddon questioned the second-inning play, the umpires did a review to see if Texas C Robinson Chirinos was improperly blocking the plate; he was not.

PITCHING IN: LHP Jake McGee said his right calf felt good enough Monday to return to duty. He was unavailable Sunday due to tightness after being hit by a batted ball in Saturday's game. "It's loosened up," he said. "It was a little hard to walk (Sunday).''

CATCHING ON: Maddon switched to Curt Casali behind the plate because he wanted Jose Molina to catch RHP Jeremy Hellickson tonight and RHP Jake Odorizzi on Thursday and didn't want to use him three of four days.

REHAB REPORT: OF Wil Myers (right wrist) went 2-for-3 with a grand slam in his second rehab game for Triple-A Durham. … OF David DeJesus (left hand) will go through full workouts in Port Charlotte today and Wednesday and could start a rehab assignment by the weekend. … After being shut down for a week, C Ryan Hanigan (oblique) started doing rotational exercises.

MISCELLANY: In striking out 44 Cubs last weekend, the Rays tied the modern (since 1900) record for a three-game series, done three times: 1991 Blue Jays vs. Tigers, 2012 Brewers vs. Pirates, 2013 Tigers at Twins. … To combat the 90-plus degree heat, the Rays did limited pregame work on the field, and most wore shorts and T-shirts.

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