2/26/2013 4:29 P.M. ET
Rays welcome Wounded Warriors to morning workout
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays had guests during Tuesday's morning workout.
Strength and conditioning coach Kevin Barr brought out Wounded Warriors from the Tampa Bay area, who served in the Middle East.
"I introduced them to the team," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I didn't have them talk, because I didn't want to put them on the spot. But it's great to have them out here."
Included in the contingent were Jason Martinez from Wounded Warriors, Army Sgt. Alex Somerson, Army Colonel Brian Commons, Navy HM3 Chris Scott, Army Sgt. Brian Urruela and Army Corporal Roberto Cruz.
Luke Scott was among the many Rays who had the opportunity to talk with members of the group.
"I always express my gratitude for their service for our country," Scott said. "I think a lot of people in our country don't appreciate it until you leave the country and experience what it's like to be in a place where there is no freedom. It just gives you a greater appreciation of what we do have here.
"And the truth of the matter is that freedom is not free. The price is blood. People have to die for freedom, people have to die for peace. That's just the way it is. These guys are on the front lines. They're defending our country and their defending our freedoms here and it's greatly appreciated."
Longoria tested on the bases in first game back
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Evan Longoria made his first spring appearance in Tuesday afternoon's rain-shortened Rays win over the Astros, and the All-Star third baseman had an eventful three innings.
After a season that saw him miss 85 games due to a partially torn left hamstring, Longoria had minor offseason surgery on Nov. 21 to correct the problem. The leg held up well Tuesday after several tests.
"I definitely got my baserunning in today," Longoria said. "That's always the way it works. The first day out you get tested. And I'm glad I got it out of the way early. I felt great. I've pretty much covered all ends of the spectrum as far as running goes."
Longoria had two at-bats, collecting a bloop single in the first and a single that skipped over the shortstop's glove in the second. On both occasions he had to run the bases. He got thrown out at home trying to score from second on Shelley Duncan's first-inning single, and Longoria scored from first on Leslie Anderson's triple in the second.
"That last ball I hit to the shortstop would have been the final straw," Longoria said. "I would have had to try and leg out a single. But I went hard into second trying to break up a double play. Tried to score from second and scored on a [triple] from first, so all in all it was a good day.
"I felt good. I felt like it was normal. I don't know how it looks. But I know is that it feels and it looks like it feels 100 percent better than it did at the end of the season last year, and that's all that really matters. Now just continue to work hard and progress and just be happy that I'm healthy and on the field."
Longoria slid into home when he got thrown out in the first.
"I wasn't going to stop, because I was already pretty much committed," Longoria said. "I was looking at [third-base coach Tom Foley] the whole time, waiting for him to put up his hands. Usually he's down the line more where he gives you a chance to look at him a little longer, but he was right at the bag. He said he was yelling stop, but in the moment, you can't really hear anything.
"I was looking for hands and I didn't get them, because at that point, it would have been harder to stop than to just keep going. We almost got a run out of it. The ball could have hit me or anything could have happened. The guy made a good throw."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said "it was good to see [Longoria] run a little bit."
Longoria missed three days in camp last week due to the birth of his daughter before rejoining the team Saturday.
"I was just really happy to be out there today and get tested and get through that stuff," Longoria said. "And get a couple of at-bats."
Former Rays player Kapler visits camp
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Gabe Kapler visited camp on Tuesday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said that Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, invited Kapler to camp "for some undisclosed reason." Afterward, Maddon said he invited Kapler to get into uniform and join the team on the field.
"Kap's out here today," Maddon said. "He's going to be here a couple of days. I always love having Kap with us. I introduced him to the position players, not everybody, as one of the best teammates you ever had in your life, because that's what he is. It's really great to have him out here. I know he's going to have a lot of positive influence to whomever he speaks. I mean that very sincerely, this guy's outstanding."
Kapler noted that he did not have any hidden agenda concerning his visit.
"To be really accurate about what's going on here, I'm really just spending some time absorbing baseball ... really just experiencing baseball," Kapler said. "I had an urge to be on the field and be around the game and specifically be around the guys."
Kapler said he's been spending a lot of time at home, and he's helping to develop a business. He seemed to enjoy meeting the new players on the team.
"Because there's been a lot of turnover," Kapler said. "So the opportunity to interact with the guys around the cage, the outfield, what have you, was important to me."
Kapler said he still would like to get back into baseball, but right now the most important thing to him is "watching my kids grow up."
"I'd summarize it that I very much want to be back on the field and around the game, but the timing has to be right for that. And right now, I'm focused on spending time with my family and helping to build [the business]."
Kapler played for the Rays in the 2009 and '10 seasons, hitting .228 with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 158 games.
• Kyle Farnsworth won't likely touch the mound until next week, but there is nothing wrong with the veteran reliever who has been taking it slow. He noted that he needed to save some bullets for the season. "The older you get the more you need them," said Farnsworth, who would like to get roughly eight outings this spring to get ready for the season.
• Joel Peralta said he talked to pitching coach Jim Hickey, and the plan is for him to make his first appearance of the spring on Thursday against the Tigers in Port Charlotte. The veteran right-hander has been slowed by a stiff neck.
• Rays players went through a media training session on Tuesday that spent a lot of time focusing on social media. Manager Joe Maddon added his spin on social media by saying, "I think it's about being tasteful."
• Maddon praised Josh Lueke's 1 1/3 innings performance Tuesday, noting, "That's the best I've ever seen him."
• Maddon also doled out praise for Wil Myers. "I'm impressed with his athleticism," the manager said. "He moves well. ... He's a real good athlete."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.