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STAYING FRESH PAYS OFF AS HINSKE REJOINS CLUB

As disappointed as Eric Hinske was to be left off the Rays' roster for the ALCS and World Series, he worked hard to stay ready in case he was needed.

Sunday, he was.

With DH Cliff Floyd sidelined by a sore right shoulder, the Rays activated Hinske in his place for the rest of the Series, and, in his first at-bat since Sept. 28, Hinske hit a pinch-hit homer in the fifth.

"It's kind of bittersweet because you never want to see anybody get hurt, but, yeah, I'm excited to be active and have a chance to help any way I can," Hinske said.

Floyd, 35, tweaked the shoulder diving back into second base in Game 2 on Thursday. He considered it a minor matter until waking up Friday night with it throbbing, then had more discomfort when trying to take batting practice on Saturday. "Once he started hitting he realized it was a little more serious than he thought," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

The Rays had to request permission to make the roster move and have team Dr. Koco Eaton speak to MLB medical personnel.

Hinske hit .247 with 20 homers and 60 RBIs during the season, but Carl Crawford's return from surgery for the playoffs made him expendable. He was active but didn't play in the division series then was left off the roster the next two rounds but kept working out daily with the team.

"You know that you have no chance to get in the game that day, but you have to be professional about the situation," Hinske said. "There's always a chance, like right now. So if you were just not doing anything, not getting yourself ready, it would be a lot tougher. So I'm glad I stayed on my routine and was taking batting practice the whole time."

FAIR PLAY: 3B Evan Longoria remained very sure Sunday that he made the right play trying to make a play - however bad it looked, or historic it would have been - on Carlos Ruiz's ninth-inning slow bouncer that scored the Game 3 winning run.

"It went through my mind; I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I thought about it going foul," Longoria said. "But we'd done our ground balls and watched how the ball rolls on this (field) and it wasn't going foul.

"For me to just stand there and let the ball roll and stay fair would have been a whole heck of a lot worse than me trying to make a play and throwing it over (C Dioner Navarro's) head."

Longoria said he did the best he could, barehanding the ball and flipping it toward the plate. "That's just a once-in-a-lifetime play in pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime situation," he said. "If I make that play, it becomes one of the plays, like Derek Jeter's play (in the 2001 ALDS when he made an unexpected relay to the plate). One of those things that you see on ESPN Classic for a while."

Longoria said that Eric Bruntlett was so far down the line, he didn't have time to aim his toss. "I was just trying to get rid of the ball," he said. "I thought maybe if I got it there we'd have a chance to get him. But he was kind of running right in front of me and I talked to Navi after and he was like, I didn't really know which side to go to one way or another."

Z MARKS THE SPOT: Manager Joe Maddon continued his rightfield shuffle, going back to switch-hitter Ben Zobrist in an attempt to add offense. The odds in spring training of Zobrist starting two World Series games in rightfield? "Probably negative 2 percent," Maddon said. "The fact that he's come along so far with his hitting is the big issue."

Rocco Baldelli, who is likely to start tonight against LHP Cole Hamels, was also considered, but Maddon didn't like his 0-for-8 showing against Phillies starter Joe Blanton.

MISCELLANY: Hinske was the 23rd player with a pinch-hit Series homer. It is the first Series since 1975 to feature two pinch-hit homers (Bruntlett hit one in Game 2). ... The Phillies reserves and starters were introduced during pregame ceremonies; the Rays opted to be introduced as a team. ... With a 1:47 a.m. finish, Game 3 is believed to be the latest ending in Series history, though records are not complete. ... When Matt Garza struck out the side in the fourth Saturday, it was the 18th straight Series in which that happened at least once.

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