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Longoria may fill in at shortstop

Longoria may fill in at shortstop

ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Aybar will be returning to the Rays soon, which means somebody else will have to go down.

Aybar, who was acquired from the Braves in an offseason trade, has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 12 with a left hamstring strain and has missed 42 games.

Of the players on the Rays' roster, Ben Zobrist is the only one who can back up at shortstop. But that doesn't mean they won't consider using another regular as the backup. Specifically, starting third baseman Evan Longoria's name has been speculated as a guy who could fill in at the position.

According to Longoria, he played some shortstop at Rio Hondo Junior College.

"Like 20 games," Longoria said.

And if pressed into service?

"Yeah, I'd be fine," Longoria said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon did not dispute the speculation about Longoria, but said he has not talked to him about the possibility, and added the club has not decided what roster move it will make.

"We have several things we have to deal with the next couple of days -- we'll see," Maddon said. "We just have to piece this thing together as Aybar gets well. And so we might have to get creative in certain areas, but we haven't finalized anything yet."

Aybar went 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI on Tuesday night in a Minor League assignment with Triple-A Durham.

"Willy's fine," Maddon said. "I guess there's a threat of rain today. If he can play, he'll play second base. If he can't play, we'd want him to play again tomorrow."

Zobrist started in right field on Wednesday and Jonny Gomes started at designated hitter. Maddon said Gomes has been ill, and they also wanted to get a look at Zobrist in the outfield, where he worked out a great deal during Spring Training.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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