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06/12/12 7:16 PM ET

Longoria could begin rehab assignment Friday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays third baseman Evan Longoria took more batting and fielding practice Tuesday and also did some running drills.

Manager Joe Maddon was optimistic about what he saw from Longoria, saying there were no setbacks. He is scheduled to also run before Thursday's game against the Mets. If all goes well, Longoria could begin a rehab assignment Friday.

Longoria is still not 100 percent, according to Maddon, who added that it might take another day as well.

"With a hamstring, you have to be extremely prudent and wise," Maddon said. "We wanted to make sure that he was well."

Tampa Bay was 20-17 entering Tuesday since Longoria partially tore his left hamstring April 30. In 23 games, he was hitting .329 with four home runs and 19 RBIs.

Matsui gets the start on his birthday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays outfielder Hideki Matsui hasn't been in the starting lineup since last Wednesday, but manager Joe Maddon had a good reason to insert him into Tuesday's lineup.

"It's very easy -- it's Matsui's birthday," Maddon said. "That's it."

The always-colorful Maddon then tried to justify his reason even further, saying Matsui was primed to have a big game because of the occasion.

"Sometimes you have to look beyond the stats and numbers and just look at the birthday," Maddon said.

He even went as far as to say that he read somewhere that players who played on their birthdays this season had good games.

Members of the Japanese media even took part in the celebration. They presented Matsui with a giant red velvet cake, complete with a Rays hat and baseball decorations and "38" across the front for the now 38-year-old.

Farnsworth pitching in rehab games at Class A

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fresh off a rehab assignment in Port Charlotte, Fla., Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth is scheduled to pitch again for the Class A Stone Crabs in Jupiter on Thursday.

In his first appearance, the 36-year-old pitched one scoreless inning on just five pitches, but he said he still isn't quite ready to rejoin the Major League club.

"The arm strength is still not there, but that will eventually come," Farnsworth said.

Farnsworth added he'll probably make "six or seven" appearances and hopes to be back during the team's final home stand in June, which begins against the Tigers on June 28.

The righty hasn't pitched at all for the Rays this season. A year ago, he made 63 appearances and recorded 25 saves for Tampa Bay with a 2.18 ERA. Current closer Fernando Rodney has done well in his absence and holds a 0.94 ERA with 18 saves already this season.

Worth noting

• Second baseman/right fielder Ben Zobrist was out of the lineup Tuesday due to soreness in his hand. Maddon said he is listed as day to day but joked that he wished Zobrist was out "hour to hour" instead.

• Infielder Jeff Keppinger was back in the Rays' clubhouse Tuesday, this time without the walking boot he was last seen wearing. Maddon said he can begin taking batting practice "in a couple days."

Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.