I love Evan Longoria but he’s really aggravating me right now. I worry about his physical health being jeopardized because he wants to play play play. He is very important to the Rays, obviously, but not if he’s injured and not performing the way he needs to be performing.
During the radio broadcast last night, Andy Freed said something like, “as Evan goes, so do the Rays.” One can interpret this in many different ways, the most obvious being, if Evan isn’t hitting home runs, the Rays lose. But this just isn’t accurate. Everything is off with Evan, not just hitting, but base running and defense as well. I seem to remember the Rays doing pretty well when Evan was on the DL with that oblique strain. The other guys managed to pull the team out of the basement and go from 1-8 to 15-13. Without Evan.
So perhaps the saying, as Evan goes so do the Rays, means more about the fact that if he is playing when he shouldn’t be, the team is being injured as a result. Would it really hurt the team if he went and took a break, got the foot looked at, rested the oblique? Sean Rodriguez plays a pretty good third base. Sure, maybe not as good as Evan, but which Evan are we comparing him to? One hundred percent Evan? Then no, Sean can’t quite live up to that. However the Evan we have now? I think Sean is less of a liability at the moment. He may not hit the ball any better, but would Evan physically have been able to tag up and score like Sean did during last night’s game?
I understand that guys want to play. They are baseball players because they love the game. But it doesn’t help anyone to play through injury. Take John Jaso for instance. He knew his oblique was bothering him but said nothing because he wanted to play in New York. When he finally speaks up, the Rays bring up Jose Lobaton to catch in Jaso’s place. Lobaton then proceeds to get injured during the epic sixteen inning game against the Red Sox.
Sure, there’s no way to say that Jaso’s silence about the oblique is why Lobaton is now injured. But it’s kinda like getting an unearned run because of an error. You speculate that had that error not occurred, the run wouldn’t have score, therefore the pitcher isn’t penalized. But a hit was given up to allow that guy who reached on an error to cross home plate. Chicken? Egg?
Going back to Evan, his situation pains me the most because I love the guy. I don’t want to see him go, not even for a day. But I’m not filled with the excitement I once was when I hear those electric violins. Not only to I fear he’ll just pop the ball up or get a weak grounder, but what if he hustles to first and really gets injured, season ending injured?
It’ll be interesting to see how he does on the upcoming road trip since he does better away from the Trop. Maybe he’ll get a little healthier on real grass. However I don’t think it’s road trips or batting gloves or haircuts that are going to fix Evan. It’s getting honest with himself and everyone else about his physical health.