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Monday, October 4, 2010
Evan Longoria 'ready to roll' for opener


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria worked out Monday while the rest of the team had the day off and manager Joe Maddon declared his All-Star fit to play in Wednesday afternoon's American League Division Series opener against the Texas Rangers.

Longoria sustained a strained left quadriceps making a defensive play against the New York Yankees on Sept. 23 and has been out of the lineup since. His Pleas to get back on the field in the final regular-season series last weekend at Kansas City fell on Rays manager Joe Maddon's deaf ears.

Maddon, though, was thoroughly pleased with Longoria's Monday workout that consisted of live batting practice against Rays pitcher Mike Ekstrom, running the bases and fielding balls off the fungo bat.

"He’s ready to roll," Maddon said. "The first slider he hit over the clown’s mouth above the State Farm sign out there [left field]. He hit it really well and had really good at-bats. So he looked really good at the plate, looked very alive. His mechanics looked good. He was not jumpy, etc. So he came through hitting, fielding, running, throwing very well."

The first pitch Longoria will see in 13 days will come from the left arm of Rangers ace Cliff Ace. Back in Texas, concern was how many at-bats it would take Josh Hamilton to find his groove after being out since early September. Maddon said he's not concerned with Longoria, a .294 hitter with 22 home runs and 104 RBIs.

"The thing with Hamilton that’s different is that he was off for a longer period of time whereas Longa was not," Maddon said. "Longa has actually been hitting, taking batting practice in Kansas City [last weekend] also, so he’s been swinging all along and his body of work was much deeper into the season than Josh’s was. So, I don’t think there’s as much of an impact regarding the time off for Longa as it may have had for Josh."