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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.