Tampa Bay’s third baseman Evan Longoria was promoting the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams contest on Tuesday and Sarah Tyson was able to interview the two-time Gold Glove winner on behalf of Aerys Sports and Rays Index.

Longoria was featured among other big names in baseball in two Pepsi MAX commercials, and took a starring role in the one below, earlier this year. Now he’s encouraging bay area residents to vote for their very own dream team.

Before Evan met with fans gathered at a Sweetbay Supermarket in Palm Harbor, Florida, I spent a few minutes with him and talked about the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams and his season so far.

Let’s get started on the right foot. How did it feel to reach that 20-homerun mark the other night and then hit number 21 Monday night?

Um pretty good. It’s been quite a struggle this year just physically to be healthy. But, I mean, I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone. Obviously, my average is not good, but outside of that I mean I think the goal is just to produce as many runs as I can at this point and just do everything I can to help the team win.

That leads right into my next question. Your average isn’t where you want it to be, but you lead the team in ribbies after missing 29 games and your defense has been spectacular, as usual. Does that fit in with Joe Maddon’s “Find another way?”

Like I said, it’s been a different year for me and so I think, to go out there every day and just really try to focus on doing anything you can to help the team win, whether it’s drive runs in, make a defensive play in the eighth or something to save a run…You know I think that’s always been my focus but especially this year when it’s not going as planned. There’s gotta be different ways to try and make things work and so that’s just been my focus.

My dad coached ball for 20 years. He said it looks like lately you’re standing a little farther off the plate than usual. I don’t know if that’s an adjustment you’ve made or if he’s just watched too much TV! But he said you look comfortable.

I don’t know. My mom is a great TV hitting coach too. Ya know, everybody has their opinions, but for me, Derek Shelton has done a great job with just watching video and trying to point things out and see maybe if there is something or other that can help. But my swing has definitely felt good over the past couple of weeks, so I just gotta continue to work.

Your range backhand and forehand is impressive. How much do you spend working on that?

I take probably 20 to 30 ground balls a day. I just try to do it at game speed so it transfers over into the game. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I moved over from shortstop so I was already accustomed to having to move moreso than I would if I was just playing third my whole life. But that’s kind of a point of pride for me, just being able to get to balls that other guys may not be able to get to.

Because of your success with Tampa Bay and then teaming up with Pepsi, you’re one of the recognizable faces of Major League Baseball today. What is it like for you to be in that group with the Pepsi MAX commercials?

It’s different. It’s definitely not something that I expected to happen, especially going down the road that I did to start off my pro career. But, it’s an awesome feeling. And like you said, to be associated with groups like Pepsi and the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams that we have going on now, it’s an honor. And it’s something that I didn’t think would happen.

Field of Dreams is a favorite baseball movie for a lot of people. If you had a baseball movie marathon, what movies make you list?

(laughs) Definitely Field of Dreams, probably The Sandlot, what is it…Sixty..

61. I stole my dad’s copy of that DVD.

Yeah, 61*. Shoot, there’s so many good ones man. The Natural is good. Rookie of the Year is awesome.

Major League?

Yeah, Major League. There’s a lot of good baseball movies.

On the Field of Dreams ballot, which third baseman would you go with?

Definitely Brooks Robinson. Not only was he obviously a Hall of Fame player, he’s one of the sweetest men I’ve ever met. He’s an awesome guy, for one, that puts him at the top of the list. Not taking anything away from the either of the (other) guys. I actually played with Schmidt. He coached the USA club when I was on it for two days, I got a chance to meet him. But I think Brooks was obviously a 16 time Gold Glover, recognized for his glove, not moreso than his bat, but obviously 16 times is pretty impressive, so that’s really what I appreciate about him.

For the rest of my interview with Evan, and to learn more about the Field of Dreams contest, keep reading!

This Pepsi MAX promotion is all about the fans, how else are you reaching out to the fans and the community?

I’ve been tweeting a lot more and realizing how important, not important….I don’t know if that’s the word, but how cool it is for you to be able to talk directly to the fans and see the pure joy that they get out of just having a couple words with somebody. It takes a second, but to be able to reach out to fans in that respect is cool and to every now and again answer questions is really cool.

Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Twitter?

I actually met Dhani Jones at the ESPY’s this year and he’s got a cool Twitter feed, he’s real neat to follow. I love his show on Travel. I follow John Clayton for my fantasy football needs. Who else do I follow? I follow Bubba the Love Sponge here in Tampa.Kenny Mayne. I did the commercial shoot with him earlier in the year and he’s just a really, really dry funny guy. He’s awesome.

I saw some of your teammates talk trash a little on Twitter. Price saying he could strike you out with two pitches.

Price is a really good tweeter. He’s better than me.

Another community thing you did-I saw you did yoga. Was that part of your rehab program getting into yoga or have you always been into that? I’m a Pilates girl myself.

I’ve been doing it for three years, but this past off-season I really got into it. Was going about three times a week. Going into the season, I always look for charity work and stuff that I can do within the community. There’s a lot of golf tournaments and bowling events, a bunch of different things that people have thought of, but I had never heard of someone doing yoga for charity. So I thought it would be cool. I teamed up with a girl by the name of Ronnie who owns Bella Prana yoga in South Tampa and she was more than happy to host it at her place. It’s been great, we donate pretty much 90% of the proceeds to Moffitt, she just takes whatever she needs to cover her costs. It’s been great.

Since you were on the DL for a while, did you pick up any other hobbies?

(laughs) No…yoga…what else did I do? Played a lot of video games while I was on the DL. Call of Duty was going strong for a while, but it gets to a point when you’re on the DL that you just wanna bang your head against the wall. You get so ready to just get back out on the field, that pretty much everything else goes out the window, and (you) just focus on getting back on the field.

Which injury was worse for you to deal with? The oblique or the foot?

The oblique, by far. I’ve never had that before. It’s one of those things you can’t sneeze, you can’t cough, you can’t swallow the wrong way. Obviously you need your core for so much in baseball, that when you have an oblique you feel like you can’t do anything until it’s completely healed.

Last question: I know you’re all allowed to grow out the hair this season, but any chance we’ll see the Rayhawks come back?

Johnny’s still got a mohawk. Sean Rodriguez has still got a mohawk. I don’t know if we’ll do the whole team thing again. But I’m sure down the stretch we’re gonna have some kinda team (theme). We always do and that’s what makes this group fun. It’s a young group of guys, I think Johnny’s the vet of the team, but he’s as young, if not younger at heart than everybody else so it’s a great group of guys.

A big thanks goes out to Evan, Pepsi and Sweetbay Supermarkets for bringing this Field of Dreams event to the Tampa Bay area.

Here’s a rundown of the Pepsi MAX Field of Dreams contest from the official website:

Pepsi MAX and MLB are giving you a chance to play against some of the greatest players of all time. Just follow these simple steps, and you could bring a team of MLB greats to your own hometown to play ball with you and 10 of your closest friends!

  • Enter by voting for your favorite players at each position (up to 25 times per day)
  • 4 fan finalists will be announced in September
  • The 4 finalists will vie for votes to determine whose team will ultimately play the legends in his/her hometown
  • The winner will be announced during the MLB postseason

So, what are you waiting for? Start building your all-time dream team now, and remember: “If you build it … they will come!”

Sounds pretty awesome to me.

Now through August 31st, you can go to MLB.com/PepsiMAX and cast your vote for your favorite players or you can text PEPSIMAX to 41623 to receive instructions on how to vote via your mobile device.

The hardest part is choosing the top player from each position. Pepsi’s done a great job rounding up top notch talent, so you could make a case for any of these guys. The Field of Dreams ballot looks like this:

Starting Pitcher: Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux

Catcher: Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza

First Base: Steve Garvey, Eddie Murray, Frank Thomas

Second Base: Craig Biggio, Rod Carew, Ryne Sandberg

Third Base: Wade Boggs, Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt

Shortstop: Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith

Outfield: Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield

Relief Pitcher: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage

Designated Hitter: Harold Baines, Edgar Martinez, Paul Molitor

So start building that dream team baseball fans, and they will come.  Good luck and may the best fan win!

This interview is being republished with the permission of the author, Sarah Tyson.  You can regularly find Sarah on Cowbell Clankers, the home for Tampa Bay Rays news at Aerys Sports.

Likes(1)Dislikes(0)

Tags

 
 

5 Comments

  1. Don says:

    Longoria is fantastic..just because he is 0 for 7 with the bases loaded means nothing..its a small sample size....

    Likes(0)Dislikes(1)
    • mary says:

      I knew we could count on you for a negative response about anything written about Longoria. Who are you and what is your problem with Longoria? Jealous that he made a commercial. Really??and he does lead the team in RBI's.

      Likes(1)Dislikes(0)
  2. Beth says:

    Wow, Cork, at first I thought you had done this interview, and that was you describing yourself as a "Pilates girl." I was really impressed that you were so comfortably "metrosexual." Oh well.

    Likes(0)Dislikes(0)

Leave a Comment