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Thursday, Nov 23, 2017
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Rays Notebook: Zobrist earns AL Player of the Week award

ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays have put a chokehold on the AL Player of the Week award. UTL Ben Zobrist became the third Tampa Bay player to win it in three weeks Monday, following RHP James Shields and DH Johnny Damon, who shared the honor with Angels RHP Dan Haren. Zobrist hit .440 (11-for-25) with two home runs and a .444 on-base percentage in six games while leading the majors with five doubles and 13 RBIs, tying for most runs scored with eight and total bases with 24, and ranking second in slugging percentage at .960. Of course, he had the epic seven-hit, 10-RBI day in the doubleheader last Thursday at Minnesota.
The last time a team won the award three weeks in a row was June 4-24, 2007, when the Tigers did it with Gary Sheffield (co-winner), Justin Verlander and Carlos Guillen. Quality over quantity 3B Evan Longoria conceded he may have to taper back his pregame preparations a little to lessen the risk of suffering another oblique injury. The thee-time All-Star is expected to rejoin the team today after missing a month with a strained left oblique. "I've always been a guy that likes to take a thousand swings and a thousand ground balls, and that was one of the things I talked about with everybody when we have our meetings in spring training," Longoria said Monday. "I was kind of trying to not cut back but (trying to understand) when I may need more work or when I may need to back it down and just relax a little bit. "It was unfortunate that this happened, and maybe it was kind of a sign for me to realize that, hey, maybe I don't need to take a hundred extra swings a day. It's just always been my nature, so I'll probably back it down a little bit and realize when I do need the extra swings and when I don't and try to (emphasize) quality over quantity." Longoria also admitted he'll have to guard against trying to do too much to make up for missing 26 games, but he said he's relieved to know he won't have to help the team (15-13) make up lost ground. "We don't have anything to make up at this point, which is huge ...," he said. "We just need to keep playing well and put wins on board. That, itself, is going to make things a lot easier — not having to press myself into trying to do something I'm not capable of doing right now." Roster movement The Rays are expected to call up RHP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A to fill out the bullpen, and they'll have to make another move to create a spot for Longoria. Gomes, who was 0-1 with a 1.35 ERA and six saves in six chances entering Monday, will replace LHP Jake McGee, who was sent down Saturday so RHP Alex Cobb could be brought up for a spot start Sunday. Smokin' hot RF Matt Joyce recorded his ninth multi-hit game of the year Sunday, the most for the Rays. The Tampa native is batting .555 in his last five games and .443 in his last 19.
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