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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays

Longoria Nets AL Weekly Honors

ST. PETERSBURG - ST. PETERSBURG - Evan Longoria appreciated the significance of being named the American League Player of the Week on Monday. "That's a national stage," he said. "The AL, and the AL East especially, is not the easiest league to perform well in. I know we haven't been playing within our division, but just the AL in general, it's a big honor for me." Longoria became the first Rays rookie to take player of the week honors after hitting .433 (13-for-30) with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs last week against Florida and Pittsburgh. He is the second Rays player this year to be so honored, joining RHP James Shields (April 28). There's no question Longoria had a stellar week, including four hits Friday at Pittsburgh and homers on consecutive days against the Marlins, but the Rays' newfound high profile around the game couldn't have hurt his candidacy.
"It's taken us a long time to get any kind of national recognition, and there are still the doubts out there that we can hold up what we're doing," Longoria said. "But to be in the here and now and be in the national spotlight for now is cool." Rays manager Joe Maddon hoped to get the third baseman back on track Monday after a couple of merely average days at the plate by moving him back into the fifth spot in the order. Longoria had batted third the previous two games. Willy Aybar hit third Monday, but B.J. Upton will be back there tonight as Akinori Iwamura returns from his suspension. ROCCO UPDATE: The Rays pulled Rocco Baldelli off his rehab assignment Monday, citing what Maddon described as "a little bit of a sore groin." Baldelli said he played a couple of rehab games for Vero Beach last week after straining his right groin and the Rays decided it would be best to give him a week to rest up. He'll stay with the team this week and the Rays will determine the next step when that time is up. Bringing Baldelli back from a rehab assignment with what can be considered a new injury also buys the Rays some time. He had been limited to 20 days on his previous assignment and had used up 14 of them, but the Rays should be able to send him out to the minors for 20 more days now that he has a different injury. RED SOX THREAT: Security officials affiliated with the Red Sox and Major League Baseball accompanied the team at its St. Petersburg hotel and Tropicana Field after a threat was made against specific Boston players. The Boston Herald first reported the mailed threat, which it said was postmarked in Memphis, Tenn., and targeted black and Latin players, some of them by name. Extra security provided by the Red Sox and MLB was in place in and around the visiting dugout beginning during batting practice Monday, but the Rays said there had been no changes to their normal security procedures. Boston manager Terry Francona declined to address the matter before the game. "I will not discuss that out of respect for everybody concerned," Francona said. IDENTITY CRISIS: Maddon spent part of his morning Monday getting a new bank card after becoming a victim of identity theft. "Somebody was charging gasoline in New York City on my debit card," Maddon said. "With the price of gas these days, I would have preferred they had gone to Tiffany's." NOTEWORTHY: Montgomery LHP Jake McGee will undergo Tommy John surgery next Tuesday after Dr. James Andrews confirmed the pitcher had torn a ligament in his elbow. ... DH Cliff Floyd arrived at Tropicana Field shortly before game time Monday. He flew home to Chicago on Sunday after the death of his grandmother. ... With Iwamura active tonight, the Rays will have a full bench again. Playing without Floyd and Iwamura on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Maddon said Edwin Jackson would have been the next player off the bench to hit or run if needed.
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