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  1. Rays

Leaner Evan Longoria focused on playing all 162 games for Tampa Bay Rays

Published Feb. 5, 2012

Third baseman Evan Longoria looks a little different coming into camp this spring.

After spending the past two offseasons bulking up in workouts, Longoria is 10 to 15 pounds leaner and considerably looser, emphasizing flexibility over strength in an effort to avoid the muscle injuries (hamstring, quadriceps, oblique) that have sidelined him during the past two seasons.

"That was the focus for me," Longoria said Friday. "I feel great. So I hope it pays off."

After spending the past two offseasons at the Athletes' Performance facility near his offseason home in Arizona, Longoria opted for a less structured workout at a smaller facility, similar to what he did before the 2009 season, which he considers his best.

"At Athletes' Performance everybody focused on your weight and intake and what you're putting in your body, and there's no right or wrong there, but it just wasn't right for me," he said.

Instead of lifting weights, Longoria focused on plyometrics (muscle stretching and explosiveness) and movement prep, "more strengthening the smaller muscles in my body and not just doing biceps and bench and all the heavy stuff," he said. "It's just as intense of a workout. It's just a different workout than you're used to, a lot of core strengthening."

Longoria, 26, won't know if the new plan works until he gets through the season; his goal is to play all 162 games. But after missing the final 10 games of the 2010 season with a quad strain and being limited in the playoffs, and missing a month early last season with an oblique and struggling afterward, he is confident this way will be better.

He also started hitting earlier in the offseason and will take more dry swings (no ball), to get and stay loose.

"I don't want to deal with what I had to deal with last year," he said. "I did as much as I could to try and strengthen all those muscles so I'm as close to 100 percent as I could be coming in."

ZEN OF ZIM: Filling in to accept honors for manager Joe Maddon at Friday's Dinner with David (Price) and Friends/Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame event at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, senior adviser Don Zimmer said Maddon not only should have won the yearly manager award but "should be manager of the decade."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Among new Rays, Jeff Keppinger will wear No. 7, Carlos Peña 23 (again), Jose Molina 28, Luke Scott 30, Burke Badenhop 45, Josh Lueke 52 and Fernando Rodney 56. Brandon Guyer switches to 11. … The Hot Stove radio show, hosted by Andy Freed and Dave Wills, kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday on 620-AM WDAE. … In a MLB Network Intentional Talk interview, Longoria tabbed Peña his best-dressed teammate and Ben Zobrist worst — "He's getting better, though" — and cheapest. … Per Indians.com's Jordan Bastian, the Rays got $100,000 in trade for Russ Canzler. ... Seen at the Trop on Friday: Former Rays RHP Albie Lopez, in town visiting Roberto Hernandez and looking, at age 40, in game shape. … Scott can make up to $525,000 in plate-appearance bonuses this year (in addition to a $5 million salary) and $1.25 million in 2013 if his $6 million option is picked up. Keppinger can add $375,000 to his $1.525 million salary. … Ex-Rays LHP Scott Kazmir hopes to pitch again, but ESPN's Jayson Stark says teams are saying his fastball is down to 84-85 mph. … In addition to his 2008 American League championship ring, former Rays RHP Matt Garza told a Fresno, Calif., TV station only select items were stolen from his home there, including cash, a necklace and two pair of shoes, including personalized Nikes he wore for his wedding. … Peña, per Baseball Info Solutions, led the majors last season in handling 58 "difficult" throws, though he also had 35 "misplays" (27) and errors (8), second most behind Prince Fielder.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow his coverage on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

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