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.
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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.