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 started at third and played all 9 innings, going 1-4 with an RBI. He had a ground out in the 3rd, lined out to center in the 4th, popped out to short in the 7th and doubled home a run in the 9th. In the field, he handled one ground ball and threw away another which led to a run.
DRays Bay paraphrases Joe Maddon from last night’s pre-game show.
To paraphrase Joe Maddon on the radio pre-game show: “[Evan] hasn’t been hitting the breaking balls well.” Combine that with, at times, shoddy defense and my intuition tells me Longoria is still going to be a Durham Bull, even if my gut tells me otherwise.
Summary: Seriously? That is going to be the excuse? He doesn’t hit breaking balls well?!?! And tell me, exactly how is he going to learn how to hit a major league breaking ball in the minors? Well, that pretty much makes it official, The Dirtbag is going to the minors and we won’t see him back until Memorial Day (May 26). Willy Aybar is expected to start today at third base. If all goes well, we can probably expect an announcement on Longoria’s fate tomorrow, and it won’t be good.