Who’s the most important player? Stop asking the question because the answer should be obvious: Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. The fact that the Rays went 47-27 with him in 2012 compared to just 43-45 without him tells you everything you need to know. With that in mind, Longoria has his focus on one thing this season, and that’s staying healthy.
“Like we talked about the beginning of the spring, whatever I have to do to be on the field as much as I can, I’m going to do whatever they want me to do,” Longoria said. “That’s easy. The bitter pill to swallow is if you’re not on the field, if you’re not healthy. If I can avoid that, at all costs, I’ll do whatever it takes. Last season was tough, very tough.”
When Longoria is in the lineup, everything changes for the Rays. The offense becomes more dynamic, the pitchers take the mound more relaxed, and the entire team gains immeasurable confidence. The Rays would love to have Longoria’s Gold Glove-caliber defense at third as often as possible, but with his bat their first priority, they’ll do whatever it takes simply to keep him off the DL and in in their lineup as often as possible.
Leslie Anderson has had a rough go since signing with the Rays out of Cuba back in 2010, still not playing a single game in the major leagues for the Rays with his power, plate discipline, and defense all being major questions in his game. Anderson still has not accomplished his goal of cracking the Rays’ roster but he did receive recognition for his spring performance, receiving the Rays’ Al Lopez Award for the best rookie in Rays camp. Anderson hit .396 with 4 doubles, a homer, and 12 RBI, edging out Longoria for the highest average among Rays minimum 10 at-bats and finishing just behind Longoria’s 12 RBIs. Anderson had a huge spring, and he will look to take this performance with him into the season. With Luke Scott hitting the DL, Anderson might have a golden opportunity to continue to prove his worth to the Rays, and if not now for Anderson, it might be never.
Speaking of Scott hitting the DL, the reason has turned out to be quite bizarre: he drank too much water. What? Scott told reporters that the injury stemmed from drinking too much alkaline water without replenishing his electrolytes, leading to cramping and subsequently the tear in his calf. These types of injuries are hilarious except when they happen to the players on the team you happen to root for, and hopefully Scott can just healthy and put this whole in the past.