Online balloting the only way to vote for Rays
Three-time All-Star Longoria ranks fourth among AL third basemen
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wednesday afternoon's game offered Rays fans their final opportunity for in-stadium voting at Tropicana Field. After that, the only way for Rays fans to cast a vote for their favorite players will be online.
Evan Longoria is the only Rays position player to rank in the top five in the voting or the top 15 for the outfield (a list from which three players will be chosen). Longoria entered the week in fourth place among American League third basemen behind the Athletics' Josh Donaldson, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers and Manny Machado of the Orioles.
Longoria, who has been on three AL All-Star teams, entered Wednesday afternoon's action hitting .264 with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.
The 2014 All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. The AL will have nine elected starters via the fan balloting program, while the NL will have eight fan-elected starters. Pitchers and reserves for both squads -- totaling 25 for the NL and 24 for the AL -- will be determined through a combination of "Player Ballot" choices and selections made by All-Star managers Mike Matheny (NL) and John Farrell (AL).
In addition to Longoria, this year's Rays nominees include: James Loney, first base; Ben Zobrist, second base; Yunel Escobar, shortstop; Ryan Hanigan, catcher; Matt Joyce, DH; and David DeJesus, Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings in the outfield.
Last year, the Rays were represented by left-hander Matt Moore, who is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, and Zobrist, who filled a nice niche with his ability to play well at several positions.
Longo, Jennings back Price with terrific grabs
ST. PETERSBURG -- David Price had his A-game in the Rays' 5-1 win over the Pirates at Tropicana Field on Wednesday afternoon. His defenders also had his back. Of particular note were the contributions made in the field by Evan Longoria and Desmond Jennings.
Longoria has won two Gold Glove Awards, and he put his defensive abilities on display during the third inning. With two outs and Tampa Bay holding a 3-0 lead, Gregory Polanco hit a foul pop fly down the left-field line. The ball headed toward the Pirates' bullpen, and Longoria gave chase.
After running approximately 100 feet, Longoria appeared to be on a crash course with the wall. But at the last instant, the third baseman flipped out his glove and hauled in the ball. Longoria then managed to get both hands on the wall, push down, lift his legs and safely vault into the stands.
"He knew exactly where he was at," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Spectacular catch, and then the ability to jump over the wall. I thought that was spectacular."
Longoria then headed back to the dugout with the third out tucked away in his glove.
"Not really much to talk about," Longoria said. "I just tried to get a good jump on the ball. It's an easier catch at home, because you're familiar with the field and you know how much room you have. Of the defensive struggles that I've had this year, a couple of them have come more frequently with David on the mound. I try to make every play for him when I can, and just try to stay under control. Luckily, I made the catch and didn't hurt myself."
Jennings' heroics took place in the seventh inning, also with two outs. Neil Walker hit a ball to deep center field that appeared as if it would clear the bases. The speedy center fielder took off running with his back to home plate, caught up to the ball and made a backhanded catch before running into the wall.
"Great route," Maddon said. "Just a great route on that ball. It was one of those things you could see from the dugout when the ball is hit whether it can be caught or not. When that ball was hit, you knew it could be caught and you had the right guy out there."
Price watched the scene unfold and held his arms up afterward to salute his teammate.
"The way Dave pitched today, you have to try and make all the plays for him," Jennings said. "He goes out and pitches like that, which he normally does, you just want to go out and do your job."
Colome to get the call for opener on Friday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Alex Colome will be added to the Rays' roster via Major League Baseball's 26th-man rule to start the first game of Friday's split doubleheader in Baltimore.
"Colome [will start] because that's what the boys said," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, when asked why Colome was selected. "I don't get a chance to see these guys actually pitch. Competitively right now, among the group, they felt like Colome was the right guy at this particular point."
Maddon explained why Colome was tabbed to start the first game, with Jake Odorizzi taking the second.
"It was just about comfort for Ordorizzi, staying in a night game as much as anything," Maddon said. "Making it uncomfortable for the guy coming in [rather than Odorizzi]. Honestly, that was it. Nothing more substantial."
Colome had a one-day stint in the Major Leagues earlier this season, allowing two runs in four relief innings on May 26 at Toronto. It was his first appearance out of the bullpen since Aug. 18, 2008, with Rookie-level Princeton.
Colome was 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts with Triple-A Durham this season. He had a 0.67 ERA through four starts, then allowed nine runs in 1 1/3 innings against Syracuse on Saturday.
Hanigan, Escobar sit; both to return Friday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Catcher Ryan Hanigan (stiff neck) and shortstop Yunel Escobar (sore right shoulder) were not in the starting lineup for Wednesday afternoon's game against the Pirates.
Hanigan was a late scratch Tuesday night when he showed up with a stiff neck.
"[Hanigan's neck is] just still a little bit stiff," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He probably could have played today, but [David Price started], and I'm staying with [Jose Molina] with Price."
Hanigan is expected to be ready to play in Friday's doubleheader in Baltimore.
Escobar left Tuesday night's 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning due to a sore right shoulder. He irritated his shoulder earlier in the game when he made an awkward throw.
Maddon said that by having Escobar sit out Wednesday's game before Thursday's off-day, he should be able to return to the lineup for Friday's doubleheader in Baltimore.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.