09/25/10 11:34 PM ET
Rays unveil new-look hats for BP
By Adam Berry / Special to MLB.com
In the spirit of the plaid "BRaysers" they wore on their road trip to New York last week, the Rays donned team hats with similarly plaid bills during pregame warmups.
"I love them. I think they're great," Maddon said. "It looks like the exact material that our BRaysers are made from. Very tasty. I think it's going to be very, very popular.
"It's actually available to become a game hat. We've been approved to wear it in the game, but we're just going to wear it in practice right now. We'll see."
Maddon went on to joke that it was a "definite maybe" as to whether or not the Rays would actually wear the plaid-billed hats in a game. Maddon, a major proponent of the BRaysers, was also a big fan of the new caps, although he couldn't take credit for their creation.
"I didn't suggest the hats. Once the merchandise people saw the BRayser, they thought of this," Maddon said. "There were a couple prototypes thrown out there, and this seems to be the most plausible one."
Longoria waiting out quad injury
ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria said his strained left quadriceps "felt great" Saturday afternoon, but the hardest part of staying off the field has nothing to do with his physical condition.
The All-Star third baseman will miss the rest of the weekend series against the Mariners, be re-evaluated Monday and likely return around the middle of next week. Sitting out has been no easy task for Longoria, who said during Spring Training that one of his goals was to play all 162 games. That goal was already out of reach entering this series, but it's still hard for Longoria to watch his team from the dugout.
"I can't just stand around and beat myself up. I'm trying to do as much as I can to keep the rest of my body in baseball shape," Longoria said. "It's real tough, but I know they have our best interest at heart all the time. I think the best thing right now, as hard as it is for me to believe, is just to rest it and stay off my feet and stay away from doing anything that's going to cause it to worsen at this point."
Longoria has been working with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield, but he won't be taking any swings until he is evaluated again Monday. An MRI on Friday night revealed no tears, so Longoria has been biding his time at the tracking machine to keep his timing down.
He added that the quad he injured while turning a double play against the Yankees on Thursday had been feeling a little off for a few weeks, though not enough to make him consider sitting out.
"I wouldn't say [it was] bothering me. Everybody in this locker room has something that's nagging them. We just try to stay on it, treat it and hope something like this doesn't happen until Nov. 1 or whenever we're done," Longoria said. "Sometimes, things are inevitable, and you just try to be a good cheerleader for a couple days and help the rest of the club.
"When we had the injury troubles in '08, everybody seemed to really step up and everybody found a way to really pull their own weight. I saw it again last night. I think that's the biggest thing about this club in comparison with that club in '08 is everybody really understands their role and is able to accept that and play within their role and contribute any way they can. It's been fun to watch."
Johnson makes first start at third base
ST. PETERSBURG -- For just the third time all season, someone other than Evan Longoria took the field at third base for the Rays. And for the first time this year, it was Dan Johnson.
With Longoria sitting out due to a strained left quadriceps and right-hander Doug Fister on the mound for the Mariners, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon opted to play Johnson at third Saturday night. Johnson had not lined up at third all season in the Majors, but he spent plenty of time there for Triple-A Durham while playing in Japan last year.
Johnson was 0-for-2 with an RBI and one strike out in a 9-1 victory.
"I feel as comfortable as can be. Granted, there's a lot more riding on it out here," Johnson said. "Once you get the emotions under control, the physical aspect I think I should be able to do.
"I'm probably the most excited person out there. It's great. I've just got to help our pitchers and do my job. I can't try to do too much. I've got to do my job, do what I'm supposed to do and let the rest take care of itself."
Maddon said he received positive reviews about Johnson's play at third from Durham manager Charlie Montoyo and executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. Johnson admitted he improved a lot during his time with the Bulls, especially regarding how to react to certain situations, but it was his time in Japan that proved the most valuable.
Japan might be the hardest place to play third because you're involved in every play," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter if the score's 2-1 or 10-0, if the leadoff man gets on, they're bunting. And all the lefties are slapping it at you. They try to slap it by you because you have to play in every time."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Rocco Baldelli would likely be in Sunday's lineup against Mariners left-hander Luke French, though he didn't know if the right-handed-hitting Baldelli would be the designated hitter or play in the outfield. Maddon said it would depend on how Baldelli's legs were feeling, as the 29-year-old suffers from a condition that causes muscle fatigue. ... Center fielder B.J. Upton has looked "real frisky" at the plate lately, according to Maddon, and his ground-rule double against Joba Chamberlain in New York was a particularly encouraging sign. Upton was 2-for-3 with a home run and a triple in Friday's 9-1 win over the Mariners, improving his average to .239. ... Since signing with the Rays on Aug. 27, Brad Hawpe has just 30 at-bats and only five hits. Hawpe would likely play a similar, fill-in role for Tampa Bay in the postseason, but Maddon had hoped to get the former Rockies player a little more playing time to evaluate what he can add to the team. "It's unfair, in a lot of ways," Maddon said. "We brought him in and talked about giving him different forms of opportunity and trying to set him up in those moments we had talked about. But again, there's other guys you've got to see, too. We're kind of thick, and it's all a good problem to have, but I would really like to see him out there as often as possible to really see what we've got going as we move forward."
Adam Berry is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.