Longoria returns to Rays' lineup

Longoria returns to Rays' lineup

NEW YORK -- A familiar face will be at third base tonight for the Rays as Evan Longoria will make his first start since Tuesday, when he experienced tightness in his left hamstring.

Longoria has made two plate appearances as a pinch-hitter in the four games that have followed, but has not started or played in the field.

On Monday afternoon, Longoria went through a series of drills with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and came away feeling good about his recovery.

"Other than just a hint of what I have in the back of my mind, that was a 100 percent of what I can do right here and that just gives me the extra confidence to get in there today," Longoria said. "... I pretty much did all the same stuff I did [Sunday] at almost max effort. Didn't feel any kind of grab or residual pain."

Longoria is happy the warning signals went off in Tuesday night's game against the Royals, which alerted him that something was wrong before he pulled or tore the muscle.

"Obviously, there wasn't any structural damage ... just the residual soreness I've had the past three or four days," Longoria said. "After Day 1, it was getting better and progressing every day. I felt like it was probably about 85 percent [Sunday]. And today it's about 95 percent. And like I said, I can't wait to be back in the lineup today."

Longoria allowed that he will need to play some before he gains total confidence in his recovery.

"It's one of those things that will take a couple of games to get that confidence back again," Longoria said. "But it's the same thing, even if you don't have an injury, if you've been on the bench for a couple of days. The confidence of just playing in the game. I feel like if I can play and feel like I'm at 100 percent, then my effort on the field will be nothing less than that, as it will be tonight when I step onto the field."

Longoria enters Monday night's game against the Yankees hitting .320 with 13 homers and 55 RBIs.

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