Plantar fasciitis is a painful injury. Typically caused by the overuse of the plantar fascia or arch tendon of the foot, it is an inflammation of the connective tissue in the sole of the foot. Moving can be quite painful, especially running and jumping, which put more impact upon the foot. That is what Evan Longoria is attempting to play through now.
Since he left the June 28th game against the Detroit Tigers, Longoria has not been the same hitter. Over the past week, he has struggled offensively, hitting only .143 without any extra base hits. While he has still drawn walks, he has struck out in eight of his last 28 at bats heading into last night’s action. Even though he may not admit it, it certainly appears as though the injury is hampering his ability at the plate.
The Rays certainly are not blaming the injury, at least not publicly. In fact, they have seemingly gone out of their way to blame Longoria’s rough stretch to his expanding the zone, according to Mark Topkin.
Expanding the zone would certainly explain the strikeouts, especially since he seems to have been vulnerable to sliders down and away this season. However, that does not fully explain the lack of power as of late, or how he has appeared to be running a bit gingerly down the line. The injury may be affecting Longoria more than the Rays, or possibly Longoria himself, are letting on.
One of the primary treatments for plantar fasciitis is rest. Longoria will be getting some time off in the next week, as his All-Star snub may be a blessing in disguise, but he did have three days off after aggravating the injury at the end of June. In all likelihood, for his foot to get to a point where it is markedly better, Longoria needs more than three days off.
The Rays, unlike last year, are actually better equipped to handle Longoria’s absence from the lineup. Ryan Roberts is in AAA, and he would be a solid bench option on any other team. The offense has been much better this season, and may not have been this deep in the past couple of years. Kelly Johnson and Sean Rodriguez could also fill in should Longoria miss time, and although they are not nearly the same player that Longoria is, the dropoff would not be nearly as dramatic as it had been last season.
Putting Longoria on the disabled list now may hurt, especially with the Rays in the midst of a surge that has catapulted them into the second Wild Card spot. However, it may be better to take the hit now, when the All-Star Game would limit the amount of actual games that Longoria would miss. A stint on the disabled list now could prevent the injury from becoming even worse, leading to a longer stay on the sidelines.
Despite the Rays saying the the foot is not an issue, it may well be. If so, putting Evan Longoria on the disabled list now may be the best move for the Rays going forward this season.