08/11/08 8:00 PM ET
Longoria on DL with fractured wrist
Rays struggle as injuries keep key players off the field
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Longoria was hit on his right wrist in the ninth inning of Thursday's loss to the Mariners and although initial X-rays taken after the game were deemed negative, the rookie's wrist was said to be fractured after a second opinion by team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan in St. Petersburg.
The 22-year-old Longoria has not played since Thursday, but reported on Saturday that his right wrist felt "probably at least 50 percent better" than it had initially.
"By the time we start the Oakland series I think I'll be ready to go," Longoria told reporters prior to Saturday night's game. "I would like to think I could play [Sunday]. But if it's still lingering a little bit, I'm not going to push it."
While executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman conceded that Longoria's wrist was feeling better, the team decided to put the 22-year-old on a red-eye flight following Sunday's game to get a new set of images assessed by Carlan.
"Different people determine X-rays different ways," Friedman said. "We had two different opinions. And as we talked about it [on Sunday] we decided just to be safe."
Friedman also cited Carlan's familiarity with Longoria and the team's desire to get another set of full images at different angles as the main reason for the second look.
"We just wanted to be safe and, unfortunately, we discovered that this was new," Friedman said of the fracture. The team had optimistically scheduled a return flight for Longoria, but is now expecting to be without the third baseman for two to three weeks.
Although the discovery may have avoided a more catastrophic injury down the road, Longoria's new prognosis couldn't have come at a worse time for the Rays.
The team is struggling to juggle several key injuries including the day-to-day status of shortstop Jason Bartlett -- who was injured trying to bunt on Aug. 3 -- and Crawford, who has been tentatively diagnosed with a subluxation of his right middle finger tendon.
Crawford's injury is located at the base of the middle finger of his right hand at the joint connecting the finger to the hand. The tendon used to straighten the fingers has come out of its groove, which causes the finger to lock into position when he bends his finger downward. He must push the tendon back into place to again straighten his finger.
Since his call up on April 12, Longoria had played in 104 consecutive games prior to the injury, and was the Rays leader in home runs (22) and RBIs (71). He was named an American League All-Star with the "Final Vote" fan ballot after receiving a record nine million votes, and became the first Rays rookie to participate in both the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby.
As of Sunday, Longoria was the top Major League rookie in slugging percentage (.533), extra-base hits (51) and home runs, and had a League-leading .971 fielding percentage among third basemen. He earned AL Rookie of the Month honors for June and was named AL Player of the Week for June 23-29.
Meanwhile, Crawford was hitting .273 with eight home runs and 57 RBIs and was in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak before he was injured trying to check his swing in the 10th inning of Saturday night's game.
Although the Rays have rebounded from injuries all year, Friedman acknowledged that the recent loss of Crawford and Longoria brings the adversity to a new level.
"Obviously, it's a step back," Friedman said. "But that's just going to put a little more added pressure on doing things right ... our strong belief is there will be a few guys who really step up during this time period."
With the loss of Longoria, the Rays are likely to hand the third base reins to Willy Aybar, who has started the team's last three games. To help bolster the outfield, Justin Ruggiano was recalled from Triple-A Durham to assume Longoria's spot on the 25-man roster.
Ruggiano is hitting .315 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs for the Bulls, and will be serving his third Major League stint this season. In 15 games for the Rays, he has gone 9-for-31 (.290) with a home run and two RBIs.
Although Ruggiano's bat was a factor, Friedman said the club's biggest concern was stabilizing the outfield without the speedy Crawford.
"Obviously Carl is a premiere defensive left fielder in baseball," Friedman said. "And with Ruggiano we will feel he will at least help feed into that a little bit."
Although the Rays will continue to monitor the waiver wire, Friedman downplayed the chance of acquiring outside help. Instead, the Rays will continue to lean on their depth and rely on superb bench play.
"Where we are in the standings isn't because of any one player," Friedman said. "So this is certainly a challenge for us. But we have great confidence in the guys we do have."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.