Thought processes and conversations started under the tilted cap of Tropicana Field. Someday everyone will know the Rays play in St. Petersburg, Florida, not TAMPA, or the fictitious city of TAMPA BAY.
Longoria’s Quad Feeling mighty Odd
Sometimes weird and unusual injuries happen as the human body begins to break down towards the end of a hard fought and hard contested Major League Baseball season. No matter what the preventative measures taken in advance, some times the body just has to give. With Tampa Bay Rays Third Baseman Even Longoria only missing one other start in 2010 (May 23 in Houston) maybe this latest injury could be a blessing in disguise to get some extra rest and relaxation before the Rays embark on their second post season venture.
Speculation right now is that Longoria could possibly be rested for almost a week, or until the Rays head out for their last road trip to play the Kansas City Royals next weekend. Already there are a few cries of despair and agony within the Rays Republic, but isn’t it more important to have a healthy and ready-to-go Longoria in October than to possibly see him shelved with fatigue or a nagging injury during the playoffs?
Rumors are also flying as to how Longoria might have strained his quadricep, but if you saw this pivot on a double play against the Yankees while in the leftie shift on Thursday night, you would have seen a small grimace on Longoria’s face as he swept his foot past the second base bag. Longoria did play the rest of the inning, but he did seem a bit uneasy and shook his leg a few times, maybe to try and keep it from binding up while he was on the field.
As an ex-Track sprinter & pole vaulter, I can tell you the most mettlesome injury is a tweaked or pulled quadricep that can grab the back of your leg and seem to not let go no matter what happens. It cripples and takes you down almost instantly because of the muscle throb and pain. Even worse is the fake confidence this injury can give you that you are healed, then you play on it and it instantly grabs at you again and can become a more severe injury.
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
This injury to Longoria might seem a bit troublesome for a Rays offense that has sputtered a bit in the past few weeks, but then again, this Longoria injury could also have a distinctive double meaning for the Rays. The first aspect is that it can give the Rays young infielder some much needed “sit time” with possible pinch hitting duty (doubt it) while Longoria gets the needed medical treatment and also a well deserved rest and relaxation period on the bench.
Secondly, the time with Longoria out of the line-up can be used as a great talent evaluator for Rays Manager Joe Maddon. who might have not penciled in his entire 25-man playoff roster just yet and could use pieces like Dan Johnson, Sean Rodriguez and even Willy Aybar to anchor the “Hot Corner” for a week. This could give the trio some extra plate appearances, plus give the Rays a possible look at alternatives if Longo happens to re-injury himself in the playoffs.
I think this works great for Rays in seeing more plate appearances for Johnson as they try and evaluate his potential for the playoff roster, and maybe a audition for a possible 2011 Spring Training invite with the Rays. Most people seem to have forgotten that Johnson actually played Third Base for the Rays during this year’s Spring Training games, plus Johnson spent the majority of his time at Triple-A Durham playing the “Hot Corner” instead of only DH’ing and playing First Base.
This unfortunate injury to Longoria might actually work out to be a hidden silver lining for the Rays and for the Rays utility guys to step up and make an added late season impression. There is nothing better for a borderline or utility player in the Major Leagues than to establish their talents at another position and maybe get a solid chance to be added to the playoff roster.
The Longoria injury also seemed to happen at a time when Maddon systematically was going to try and to give his 3-time All Star a bit of a rest anyways. The original prospect was possibly only a day or two at the most off for Longoria, but the extended rest period can recharge his body and his mind for the quick paced playoff campaign. With Longoria telling the Tampa Bay media before Friday nights game that his injury is a “moderate strain” to his quad and not a tear, a sigh of relief was seen on a few faces.
Longoria also underwent an MRI, which came back showing no extensive damage to his leg. Longoria will undergo heat and cold treatments plus spend a few special moments in the hydro-pool as he rehabs himself to get back as soon as possible.
Going to be fun to see how Maddon comes up with a winning strategy or a platoon method at Third Base with Sean Rodriguez possibly getting the most time playing against lefties, while Johnson should get ample time at the plate coming in to play defense against right-handers. Aybar has spent time in the past at Third Base, but Aybar will probably spend most of this Longoria injury time still at the DH spot instead of taking a possible turn at Third Base.
This quadricep strain by Longoria can be looked at with a glass half full, or half empty mentality. Most within the Rays Republic might see it as an half empty situation where our most prolific power hitter ( at the moment) is down for the count for a week while the Rays are clawing their way to secure another post season berth, plus fight for the crown again in the American League East.
The worry warts among the Rays fan base have brought up the fact of an extended injury by Longoria, but I have a distinctive feeling Longoria will be back in the cages before the end of the weekend trying to keep his timing and swing in check for a possible pinch-hit appearance some time during the last home series against the Baltimore Orioles.
But the Rays glass is definitely half-full as they have adequate and great alternatives in-house to supplement a small time off by Longoria. There was a time not so long ago that an injury like this would have sent shockwaves through the Tropicana Field. The great emergence of Rodriguez as both an offensive and defensive weapon combined with the power hitting of Johnson have given the Rays a bit of flexibility at the corner that they did not have in the past.
All will be fine and well in Rays-ville as Longoria sit and get better daily with an eye on coming back and dominating in the post season, and Johnson and Rodriguez get a few extra shots at trying to impress the Rays and become viable options again in 2011. Most teams within the Major Leagues, if a player of Longoria’s stature falls to injury there is a immediate panic and shuffling to find an answer. For the Rays, the answer is already sitting on their bench eager and willing to do what they can to help this team get to achieving “What’s Important Now”.
The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions.