Longoria returns to Rays' lineup

Longoria returns to lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays third baseman Evan Longoria returned to the lineup Friday against the White Sox after missing two days while in California to attend to a death in the family. Longoria, the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, returned to Florida late Thursday on an overnight flight from his home in Southern California. He said he preferred to keep the matter as private as possible, and was looking forward to being around his Rays teammates again.

"They've definitely expressed their condolences," Longoria said. "I don't look for anything more. We're here to play as a group and have fun and win. That's what it's all about."

Longoria remains tied for the Major League lead in home runs with five. He came into Friday's game against the White Sox having hit safely in all eight games he's played, a career-best streak.

"I would like to think that he'd be able to maintain his timing at the plate," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "He was going pretty good."

Longoria said his goal is to maintain a separation between his feelings of grief and the mental preparation necessary to perform well on the field.

"I think that's what you've got to do," he said. "Obviously, it's a tough thing to deal with. Everybody has their own stuff that they're going through, whether it's family or within their own heads or whatever. We all have to deal with it. It's just something that I really don't like to bring to the baseball field."

Carter Gaddis is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.