As noted by MLB.com’s Jake Kaplan, Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout in his first minor league rehab game on Saturday evening with the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
Longoria is getting the day off Sunday but will resume his rehab assignment on Monday night and should be back in the bigs within the next 7-10 days.
“I felt good out there,” Longoria told reporters after Saturday’s debut. “I was very satisfied with the way I felt. I felt like all my swings were as hard as I could, and I didn’t feel any pain or soreness or grabbing. The running was fine. All positive things. … Just trying to get at-bats, pile at-bats up, see some good pitching.”
The 26-year-old has been sidelined since tearing his left hamstring on the last day of April. He’ll return to the .329/.433/.561 batting line, four home runs and 19 RBI that he cultivated in 23 games before the injury.
The Rays are currently 36-29, three-and-a-half games back of the Yankees in the American League East.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.