If you haven’t heard yet, Evan Longoria was hit by a fastball from relief prospect Matt Bush in the Rays’ intersquad game last week. Longoria still hasn’t returned to action. Should we be worried?
Longoria’s injuries altered the course of the Rays 2011 season. Their lineup fell apart at the beginning of the season in his absence, leading to a 1-8 start before Sam Fuld became a superhero for the rest of the month. Longoria played solidly after he returned from his oblique injury, but then he suffered an ankle injury and wasn’t back to 100% until August. His struggles because of his injuries put the Rays on the ropes entering August after a sub-.500 July. In August and September, Longo was outstanding and he was a big reason why the Rays went 35-20 (.636) over the season’s final two months. But without him, the Rays offense was so inconsistent.
This is a minor injury. Longoria has continued to take part in fielding practice without missing a beat, and he said that he’ll start swinging a bat soon to get back in the swing of things (sorry for the pun). Especially since the season isn’t for another month, there shouldn’t be a problem.
But what about Matt Bush? Bush, the first overall pick in the 2004 MLB Draft by the Padres as a shortstop, has to be jealous of Longoria’s success after going 3rd overall to the Rays in 2006. But that’s reading way too much into the situation. Bush was apologetic afterwards and he’s just trying his best to impress the Rays coaching staff. Bush has electric stuff, hitting 97 MPH with his fastball and mixing in a plus curveball, but his problem right now is control, and all that happened here was that a pitch got away from him. Bush has pitched fine since spring training actually began, and he tossed a scoreless inning yesterday, and we could see him in the big leagues by September. We can’t blame him for one errant pitch.
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