Evan Longoria hoping to begin rehab assignment Friday

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Evan Longoria has been gradually increasing his workouts this week and his partially torn left hamstring has responded well enough that a minor-league rehab assignment is right around the corner.

Greg Zeck of MLB.com reports that Longoria could see his first game action as soon as Friday if he can avoid a setback while testing the hamstring by running Thursday.

Tampa Bay has handled Longoria’s absence well, going 20-17 without him in the lineup despite the third baseman getting off to an excellent start before the injury. Will Rhymes and Sean Rodriguez have been splitting third base duties in his place, so even if he’s less than 100 percent healthy initially Longoria will be a huge upgrade.

Carlos Martínez to work out of Cardinals’ bullpen for rest of season

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When Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez returns from the disabled list, likely some time next week, he will pitch out of the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Martínez has been on the disabled list since late July with a strained right shoulder. The plan is still for Martínez to start in 2019 and beyond.

GM John Mozeliak said, “If you’re going to go down that starting path and you’re starting at ground zero, the likelihood of him being back would be sometime in mid-September. And we’ve done that twice this year and ended up in the same place after a few starts.”

Martínez, 26, has a 3.41 ERA and a 98/49 K/BB ratio in 100 1/3 innings across 18 starts this season. The Cardinals’ rotation currently features Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Luke Weaver, and Austin Gomber.

The Cardinals entered play Monday 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot in the National League, so adding Martínez to the bullpen — or, subtracting him from the rotation, depending on how you look at it — could make a significant impact on the club’s playoff chances.