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Losing Longo would be a disaster

Joe Maddon, president of the Tampa Bay Rays Glass is Half Full Club, strayed from club policy Wednesday afternoon when he admitted to seeing one particular glass as being half empty. No word on whether the club will take action against Maddon or, if like the rest of the bay area, they too saw Evan Longoria grab his left hamstring after running to first base Tuesday night and immediately thought the worst.

Longoria is the glass in question, and an MRI taken Wednesday morning did not find any damage to the hamstring.

“He’s fine,” Maddon said. “He’s absolutely fine.”

The Rays third baseman did not play Wednesday night against the Kansas City Royals. He will not play this afternoon, either. Maddon is waiting for the Rays to reach Yankee Stadium on Friday night before putting the major league’s RBI leader back at third base.

Longoria’s hamstring is still a little sore, and the hard infield inside Tropicana Field could only make it worse.

Why take chances?

The Rays, who haven’t had much luck as of late, got lucky Tuesday.

Hamstring injuries are tricky. Some heal quickly. Some ruin seasons.

There are plenty of guys on the disabled list with hamstring injuries that were thought to be “day-to-day.”

The Rays are not completely out of the woods with Longoria, because some hamstring injuries linger. A sore hammy will not rob Longoria of his speed the way it did Carl Crawford last season, but it will limit his range at third, and it will cost him some of his power.

The Rays are still trying to claw their way back to .500. They are still closer to last place than first. And that’s with Longoria and his 13 home runs and major league-leading 55 RBIs in the lineup.

Where would the Rays be without Longo?

“Longoria is a stallion when it comes to wanting to play this game,” Maddon said. “He knows his role within our group. He knows his place and lot within this game already. He knows for us to get back to the promised land, he’s got to be there. He knows that.”

The Rays are already without their middle infielders. Second baseman Akinori Iwamura is out for the season with a torn ACL. Shortstop Jason Bartlett is still at least two weeks away from returning from a sprained ankle.

Where would the Rays be without Iwamura, Bartlett and Longoria for an extended period of time?

Ben Zobrist at second, Reid Brignac at short and Willy Aybar at third is not the way to defend an American League pennant. Nothing wrong with those guys on a short-term basis, but you would rather have a healthy Bartlett and a healthy Longoria on the left side.

Longoria served as the Rays designated hitter Tuesday to give his sore right shoulder another day of rest. That, Longoria said, might have led to his hamstring injury.

“I think with a couple days at DH I got out of my routine that I had been doing the past two years, and I think it messed me up a little bit,” he said.

So Longoria sits for a few days and the Rays proceed with the business of reaching the promised land almost certain they had dodged a huge bullet.

And, proving why he is president of the TBRGHFC, Maddon saw a positive in Longoria’s minor setback.

The days off meant more rest for Longoria’s shoulder.

Of course Maddon would see it that way.

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