Longoria to start rehab assignment Thursday

Longoria to start rehab assignment Thursday

Longoria to start rehab assignment Thursday
BALTIMORE -- Evan Longoria is scheduled to being a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Thursday, Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Longoria plans to serve as a designated hitter with Durham, return to the Rays as a DH, then start playing third base as his hamstring allows.

"I finally get to play baseball again," Longoria said. "The plan right now is just to go out and DH, and just take it easy, and try and get back here healthy and able to contribute in that way. From the beginning, the defense has been the toughest thing."

"I'm as ready as I"m going to be right now, offensively."

No timetable has been set for Longoria's return to the Majors. Longoria and Maddon said the biggest factor will be how Longoria feels swinging the bat and how quickly he can adjust to the speed of the game.

Longoria has been sidelined since suffering a partial tear in his left hamstring on April 30, an injury that was supposed to take six-to-eight weeks to heal, but continued to linger even as eight weeks came and went.

"I think it's just going to be about how comfortable I feel," Longoria said. "If I have five good at-bats, I might say, 'Call me back up.' It's just going to be building back into it."

Longoria said the injury has it's biggest effect when he tries to reach his peak speed or perform any "explosive movements."

He's done well with fielding drills, but said trying to field ground balls on his backhand side remains a challenge.

"It's come a long way from where I was when I was talking about this same thing three weeks ago," Longoria said. "I think I've gotten clarification four different times that I'm not going to make it any worse, and that having to deal with a little bit of pain is well worth being out on the field."

Because he doesn't think he is at a significant risk of aggravating he injury, Longoria said the biggest key has been getting his strength back.

The Rays plan to ease Longoria back into action, with Maddon saying the team will give him a day off whenever he needs it.

"I think tomorrow is going to be very telling," Maddon said. "Go play. Don't try to run hard. Don't try to slide. Don't do any of that stuff. Just go play. Just see how you feel after that, and then we'll discuss it afterwards."

In the early going, Longoria expects that he'll play at a level below full speed.

"Initially, until I feel comfortable enough to go," Longoria said. "It's going to be one of those things that I'm going to have to test on a daily to weekly basis, but that will be the goal going forward."