HOUSTON - 3B Evan Longoria took early fielding practice and hit with the rest of the team before Monday's game with the Astros, his first on-field activity since leaving Friday's game with a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot.
"It didn't really bother me a whole lot," he said.
The tear is actually a good thing with this injury. It accelerates the healing process. Because of that, there is a strong sense among the Rays that Longoria will avoid a trip to the disabled list.
"It's an awkward injury," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's pretty much pain tolerance."
Longoria had been playing with plantar fasciitis for more than a month and it popped on him while running to first base during the second inning Friday night.
"It just had gotten a lot worse that day," he said. "It just got to the point where I couldn't really do much more other than take a few days off. Whether it was a tear or something in there, they say that makes it better. Hopefully we can move forward after this."
Longoria said he's been lobbying executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman to remain on the active roster.
"I know in like three days after (going on the DL) it's going to feel good," Longoria said. "I think I'm going to try and make them hold off as long as they can. Andrew is pretty confident I don't have to, so I don't think I'm going to have to go."
Maddon said before Monday's game that he believed Longoria would be available to pinch hit and he hopes Longoria will return to the lineup at some point during this series.
Longoria said he wanted to play Monday and tonight so he could face a pair of left-handed starters.
"It's tough for them and myself to be able to make decisions on the lineup when it's such a question mark for me. I don't want to go out there and be worthless, basically, go out there and not be able to run and do the things that I can. We're kind of stuck in limbo, so I hope to play within the next couple of days."
LHP David Price will be activated from the disabled list today and he will make his first start since he went on the disabled list May 16 with a strained left triceps.
"For me to go out there and not have butterflies would be kind of shocking to myself," Price said.
The 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner was 1-4 with as 5.24 ERA in nine starts before going on the DL for the first time in his career. He views tonight's start as a second Opening Day, a chance to start over.
"The fact that things weren't going swimmingly for him from the beginning, the reset button might help him right now," Maddon said.
Maddon knows Price will be pumped for tonight's start. As for what to expect once the game starts, Maddon said, "I'm not one to attach expectations to moments. I'm more process-oriented. So for me, go out there, be comfortable, be healthy, be the strike thrower he is. Have them hit the ball on the ground a lot, that's a good sign, with a couple of punch-outs."
So who goes?
The Rays have to make a roster move to clear a spot for Price.
INF Ryan Roberts, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for RF Wil Myers, was recalled Saturday to add depth while Longoria's situation remained unclear.
With Longoria likely not headed to the DL, it would appear as if Roberts would go back to Durham. But if the Rays don't think Longoria can play the field every day or don't want to put that stress on his right foot so soon, Roberts might stick around.
UTL Sean Rodriguez has an option. Roberts started at third base on Monday against Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel. The Astros are starting LHP Erik Bedard tonight.
Myers hit third Monday because Longoria was not in the lineup. He served as the DH because Maddon had to play two left-handed hitters and opted for Sam Fuld in right because of the expansive outfield at Minute Maid Park. ... Maddon said the city of Houston holds a special place in his heart because he met with Friedman and team president Matt Silverman there during October 2005 for his first interview for the Rays' managerial job. ... The Rays signed RHP Ramon S. Ramirez and OF Evan Frey to minor-league contracts and assigned them to Durham Ramirez, 31, has pitched eight big-league seasons for five teams.