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 at the plate: Evan Longoria started at third base and played 6 innings. He was 0-1 with a walk and an RBI. He drew a 1-out walk in the second. In the fourth Longoria struck out looking. In the 6th, he hit a 1-out sac fly to left field. In the field, Longoria retired two base runners on ground balls and a third on an attempted steal at third base.
Quotes: According to Rays of Light, Andrew Friedman stated during yesterday’s game that the a decision would be made by the end of this week.
Summary: Willy Aybar pinch-hit in the 8th inning and hit a soft single to left field in his only at bat. He did not play in the field…If a decision has already been made, we would be seeing Aybar for the first 6 innings everyday. Keep in mind, he did not play at all last year and is coming back from a wrist injury. He needs plenty of playing time to get in game shape. Since this is not happening yet, Longoria still has a shot and it makes us believe that there are still people in the organization on both sides of the fence. So the pressure is on. Longoria has the next 3-4 days to sway opinion, and we just have a feeling that pressure is something The Dirtbag thrives on.