Torn hamstring shelves Longoria for 6-8 weeks
Rays third baseman suffered injury sliding into second base
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon recently noted that the Rays have always done well in stormy weather. Well, a monsoon hit Tropicana Field on Tuesday, as the team learned that Evan Longoria will miss 6-8 weeks with a partial tear of his left hamstring.
The Rays' third baseman left Monday night's 3-2 win over the Mariners after the third inning with left knee soreness, an injury Maddon described after the game as a "day-to-day gig right now." Andrew Friedman echoed the same sentiment Tuesday morning. But obviously, Longoria had suffered a significant injury.
"I mean I'm thinking it [stinks]," Longoria said. "I woke up today not feeling too good. Leg was stiff. So I don't know what the timetable is. I've been in similar situations before.
"It's one of those things where my job now is just to stay positive. As tough as it's going to be to watch, I can't really worry about it right now. I just have to worry about getting healthy."
Longoria reached on a one-out single to left field in the third inning Monday night and was thrown out trying to steal second. He slid awkwardly into the base and appeared to catch his foot on Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan's cleat, coming up with a slight limp as he walked back toward the dugout. But Longoria said the injury occurred while he ran to second.
"The slide didn't have anything to do with it," Longoria said. "I felt a little bit of a tweak going in. So I knew something wasn't good and the MRI confirmed that today.
"I felt good going into the game. I felt good going into that at-bat. I felt it going to first base. I felt something going from first to second."
Longoria had started every game this season and is off to a great start at the plate, batting .329 with seven doubles, four homers, 15 walks and 19 RBIs. But the Rays have succeeded without him before, most recently in 2011 before he returned and put up outstanding numbers during the second half of the season.
"It's definitely not a great situation from a team standpoint," Friedman said. "That being said, as I was walking down here I thought back to 2008, and every single one of our position players with the exception of [Akinori Iwamura] went on the DL. While it's certainly not ideal, I'm excited and anxious to see who's going to step up and who's going to do what some of those guys did for us in 2008."
Longoria has dealt with a myriad of injuries in the past, including his hamstring. Friedman noted that Longoria has historically been a quick healer.
"My body does heal pretty good," Longoria said. "But at this point probably looking at two to three weeks of just letting it heal and rest up. And see where we're at from there."
Elliot Johnson, the hero of Monday night's 3-2 win over the Mariners, started at third base Tuesday night, and the team is expected to make an internal move Tuesday night.
"Obviously there's some possibilities for other guys to come in," Johnson said. "But today I'm playing third. So that's the way I'm going to look at it today.
"I'm not going to try and be Longo, because obviously that's pretty much impossible. There's only one Evan Longoria. So I'll try and be myself out there and try and do the things I do to help the team."
James Shields said that the team will have to "move on and deal with it."
"You look at the last three or four years, it's all about guys stepping up at the right time," Shields said. "It takes 25 guys to be able to get to the playoffs, and if you can deal with the adversity like we have in the past, then we're good."
Though clearly not happy with his situation, Longoria said he was confident in the team's ability to continue playing well without him in the lineup.
"I have no doubts the team will be OK," Longoria said. "I've been on both sides where we lost guys and another guy had to step up. So I don't have any doubts about their willpower. About their ability to step up.
"We've got a long way to go and we've got a really good thing going right now. We're playing really good baseball right now. Try to keep the momentum going."
Friedman didn't rule out making a move from outside the organization either, as he noted they are constantly striving to improve the team.
"We're still a really good team, and it's something where we're going to have to be that much better defensively, we're going to have to be that much better with our execution on the basepaths," Friedman said. "Our pitching's going to be very good. We're going to score runs. It's one of those things that's definitely not ideal, but we do have a ton of talent around him that should allow us to still win a lot of games."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.