Rays hope designated hitter duties will keep Evan Longoria in the lineup with foot injury

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In an effort to keep Evan Longoria in the lineup and off the disabled list after aggravating the plantar fasciitis in his right foot the Rays will use the third baseman at designated hitter.

Longoria missed three games with a tear in his foot, returning Tuesday at DH, and told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune:

If I can be in the lineup and be effective offensively, then that’s, obviously, more important than trying to do two things at once and not being able to do either one of them effectively. I’m happy at where I’m at considering the circumstances. Happy that I’m at least able to be in the lineup. We’ll take it day-by-day as far as where we are playing the field.

Not exactly encouraging words, although he’s certainly right that Longoria at DH is better than Longoria on the DL. Kelly Johnson and Ryan Roberts figure to split time at third base and using Longoria at DH means less playing time for Luke Scott.

Alex Bregman shows how easy it is to manufacture “controversy” in baseball

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In most sports it takes legitimate trash talk to create off-day “controversy.” In baseball, it takes the weakest sauce. We saw how weak that sauce was yesterday.

Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros are going to face off against Nate Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALCS tonight. It’s worth noting that earlier this season, they hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off of Eovaldi when he was pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yesterday, in an act which was likely somewhat inspired by self-motivation, somewhat inspired by getting in Eovaldi’s head and somewhat inspired by a simple interest in having fun, Bregman took the video of those back-to-back-to-back homers off of Eovaldi and posted it to his Instagram:

Of course, since this is baseball, where even farting off-key can be construed as “showing up” the opposition or somehow disrespecting the game, it became a thing. Or at least people tried to make it become a thing.

Indeed, it took them a bit to find someone who would help them make it a thing, because Eovaldi himself didn’t care about it a bit, nor did Astros manager A.J. Hinch or Red Sox manager Alex Cora. Eventually, however, they hit pay dirt. Here’s Sox infielder Steve Pearce talking to WEEI.com:

“Wow. I don’t know why he would do that. We do our talking on the field. If he wants to run his mouth now we’ll see who is talking at the end of the series.”

My guess is that almost no one on the planet, Steve Pearce included, would care about this in a vacuum or if they allowed themselves to think through it for more than a second. Baseball culture, though — and let’s be clear about it, baseball media culture — has conditioned most of its players and participants to think that stuff like this is supposed to be controversial, so it actually takes effort not to start dancing to this kind of tune on auto-pilot.

Kudos to Hinch, Cora and Eolvaldi for exerting that effort and not dancing to it. To the press that automatically sought out comment on this and Pearce who dutifully gave it: hey, I get it. It’s hard to resist one’s conditioning. Maybe you’ll be able to resist it next time.