Wednesday will determine Longo's availability for finale

Wednesday will determine Longo's availability for finale

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays have been on the record as saying that they don't want to overwork Evan Longoria, who came off the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday, and manager Joe Maddon reaffirmed that on Wednesday.

Maddon said he plans on taking day-by-day steps with Longoria, who is serving as the team's designated hitter until his hamstring heals enough to allow him to play in the field at third base.

Tampa Bay's midweek series with Toronto concludes with a day game on Thursday, following Wednesday night's matchup. The biggest factor as to whether Longoria is good to play in the series finale is how much baserunning he does.

"The day game, we've talked about, may be more difficult in and of itself," Maddon said. "We'll see how difficult the game is [Wednesday], and if he is on the bases, that probably definitely puts him on the bench tomorrow."

Henderson Alvarez is scheduled to start for the Blue Jays on Wednesday, and Longoria has had success against the righty in the past, making the decision more difficult for Maddon.

"Without trying to re-break him, I think it may be wise to not play him [Thursday]," Maddon said. "Let's watch how it happens tonight, how much there's activity on the leg, and then we'll make our best call."

Maddon shuffled Wednesday's lineup after scoring four runs against the Blue Jays on Tuesday, leaving third baseman Ryan Roberts and shortstop Elliot Johnson out. He said it was largely dictated by the pitching matchup.

Jeff Keppinger, who is batting .311 on the season, was slated to play third in Roberts' place after Roberts has struggled to a .111 average in 11 games since joining the Rays.

"With [Longoria] being the DH, it really would reduce [Keppinger's] involvement, so I wanted to keep Kepp involved," Maddon said. "I think he's swinging the bat well."

Maddon added he expects Roberts to start hitting better and that both Keppinger and Roberts could play the field together, with Keppinger at third and Roberts at second.