Rays third baseman Evan Longoria will make his much-anticipated return tonight, activated from the disabled list after missing more than three months due to a partially torn left hamstring. Will Rhymes was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room. [...]
Longoria, 26, is coming off an eight-game minor-league rehab assignment with Durham, where he served exclusively as DH and went 5-for-25 with seven walks. The three-time All-Star will be limited to DH duties with the Rays and probably won't be able to play every day as they ease him back in. (Tampa Bay Times)
While Longoria didn't exactly light the world on fire during his rehab assignment, and it seems likely that he will take some time to adjust to major league pitching after missing so much time, his return still comes as a relief. The Rays' offense has continued to struggle, with this past weekend's series against the Orioles being Exhibit A. Playing at home, the Rays managed a mere two runs on 15 hits for the entire series, and they lost two games which they easily could have won with a bit of offense.
So while we shouldn't expect Longoria to perform like he did at the beginning of this season -- that .408 wOBA in the middle of the lineup was a glorious, glorious thing -- he should still provide some sort of a boost for this team, even if it's mostly mental. This team could use a shot in the arm, and hopefully having Longoria back in the lineup and on the bench is able to provide that.
The Rays went 41-44 during Longoria's absence, but they managed to stay four games above .500 and within striking distance of the Wild Card. That's far from an ideal, but considering how much the Rays' offense has struggled without Longoria, it's a pretty impressive result. Losing a player for a month is one thing; losing your star player for over half the season is another.
Welcome back, Longo. Your return couldn't come a moment too soon.