We call him The Dirtbag because of how he plays and because he played college ball at Long Beach State whose baseball team has the coolest mascot in sports…The Dirtbags.
The biggest question mark for the Tampa Bay Rays in Spring Training is whether or not Evan Longoria will be named the opening day third baseman. Manager Joe Maddon has repeatedly stated that the decision will be based less on his stats, and more on how the 22-year old handles himself on a day-to-day basis and how well The Dirtbag adjusts to everyday life as a major leaguer. From now until the Rays announce a decision on Longoria’s fate, we will track The Dirtbag’s progress through his numbers, our own observations and quotes from Maddon and Andrew Friedman…
Yesterday: Evan Longoria did not start, but did enter the game in the 6th and played third base going 0-1. In the 7th, he grounded out to third to end the inning and leave a runner stranded on third in his only plate appearance. In the field he handled a pop up and a ground ball cleanly.
Quotes: None reported.
Summary: Yesterday fell all the way from 80% to 30% based on quotes from Joe Maddon and some teammates that seemed resigned to the idea of starting the season without the team’s hottest hitter. Afterwards, grumblings could be heard everywhere that the Rays may feel too much pressure to send The Dirtbag down to the minors. We find it highly unlikely that the team would succumb to this kind of pressure, but we do concede that the team must at least consider that the fans and some of the players are not going to be happy about the idea of an opening day roster without Longoria. And while the team has stated that the needs of the prospect outweigh all other factors, The Dirtbag is the best third baseman and one of the best hitters on the team. If they are serious about competing in 2008, Longoria needs to be on the roster sooner, rather than later. Based on that we kick the Dirtbag-O-Meter back up one notch.