Evan Longoria says injured oblique already feels “really good”

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Rays third baseman Evan Longoria went down with a left oblique strain in the second game of the regular season. With the exception of this week’s rain-shortened series at Boston’s Fenway Park, the Tampa Bay lineup has struggled mightily to score runs consistently in his absence.

Good news.

Longoria is on schedule — and maybe even ahead of schedule — in his recovery from the strain.

According to Tony Fabrizio of the Tampa Tribune, Longo began running arcs in the outfield earlier this week and did rotational exercises with a medicine ball Thursday in a training pool.

“I feel really good,” Longoria told reporters Thursday evening. “This is the point in time where the trainers kind of have to do their job in forcing me to back off of it, but I feel like there is an opportunity to push a little more.

Like I said from the beginning, I didn’t feel like it was as bad as it showed (on an MRI). So we’re kind of treating it that way, just doing what I can and trying to keep the progression as slow as they can make me go. But the last couple of days have been real promising.”

Longoria, 25, is on track to return the Rays by the end of April, but a minor league rehab assignment will come first and that has not yet been scheduled. He was 0-for-5 with a walk before the injury.

Cubs sign Drew Smyly to a two-year, $10 million contract

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday evening that the club signed pitcher Drew Smyly to a two-year contract. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports the contract is for $10 million total and allows Smyly to earn another $7 million with performance bonuses. Smyly was non-tendered by the Mariners at the beginning of the month and became a free agent.

Smyly, 28, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June. He’s expected to miss, at minimum, the first half of the 2018 season. The Cubs are hoping he can contribute to a playoff push in the latter half of the season as well as in 2019.

Smyly didn’t pitch at all in 2017. When he was healthy the season prior, he made 30 starts for the Rays and put up a 4.88 ERA and a 167/49 K/BB ratio in 175 1/3 innings.