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: Longoria started at third going 2-5 with an RBI. Longoria flied out to center in the first and to left in the third. In the sixth, Longoria hit a two-out groundball single to the opposite field. He hit another opposite field groundball single in the next inning. He later stole second. In the ninth he grounded out to shortstop. In the field, Longoria handled his only chance, a pop up.
Quotes: none reported
Summary: (As per yesterday’s comments, Thanks Robert) Joe Maddon expressed some concerns about some of The Dirtbag’s at bats, noting that at times he has looked ‘not so good’. This is the first time that Maddon has made statements about Longoria’s readiness for the major leagues and opens the door to start the season in Durham. On the other hand Longoria added two more hits yesterday and is 6-16 (.375) with 4 walks (.500 OBP) and has yet to make an error at third. Willy Aybar is 4-17 (.235) with 4 walks (.391 OBP) with 1 error. After logging 9 innings yesterday, Longoria has actually seen more PT at third (32 inn) compared to Aybar (29 inn.)…We have no doubt that Longoria has looked bad a few times this spring, but what batter doesn’t have a few bad at bats in the spring? He is still hitting .375 and has been on base half the time. If that was not the case, Maddon’s comments alone might bring the Meter down to 20-30%. Can the team really ignore how well Longoria is playing? It is starting to look that way.