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: Cam on as a pinch-hitter in the 8th and smacked a lead-off double. He did not play in the field.
“Longoria should open the season and be an instant impact star. His hands are remarkable, and scouts believe he can hit 30 home runs as a rookie” - Peter Gammons.
“He’s got that thing…It’s fun to watch him and be associated with him. He’s a player. That’s the joy for us coaches. You don’t do what he’s done at every (minor league) level just by accident.” – Gary Gaetti (Durham Bulls hitting coach)
“That was the farthest home run I’ve ever seen hit, for sure. Hands down,” JP Howell.(RE: Longoria’s home run in game two of IL playoffs last season)
Summary: After an 0-8 stretch, The Dirtbag now has hits in his last two plate appearances. Willy Aybar started at third and went 0-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Longoria is 4-11 (.364), with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts, while Aybar is 4-16 (.250) with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Aybar has 29 innings at third base, while Longoria has logged 23 innings…As we near the half-way point of the spring, we may start to see the team tip their hand if one or the other starts receiving more playing time at the hot corner and Aybar starts receiving more PT at other positions to start getting used to his role as a utility player…If the decision had to be made today, we tend to think Longoria would be on the team based on what he has shown so far, but the decision has not been made yet.