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.
At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.
Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.
The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.
At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).