Evan Longoria had been limited to DH duties since returning from his hamstring tear two weeks ago, but he’s back at third base tonight for the first time since getting hurt on April 30.
“I’m excited to say the least. A little bit nervous,” he told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
Longoria has started 12 games since his return and hit .244/.294/.400 with two homers and nine RBI in 45 at-bats. His timing has been a little off: his 17 strikeouts in the 12 games match his total from the 23 games before he got hurt.
Longoria’s return to the field opens up the DH spot for Luke Scott, who was activated from the disabled list Tuesday after hitting two homers in eight rehab games. The wild-card leading Rays will go with the following lineup tonight:
LF Desmond Jennings
CF B.J. Upton
RF Matt Joyce
3B Evan Longoria
SS Ben Zobrist
1B Carlos Pena
DH Luke Scott
2B Ryan Roberts
C Jose Molina
With Longoria back in the field, the Rays sent down utilityman Sean Rodriguez to open up the roster spot for Scott.
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.