HOUSTON - Evan Longoria's bat is in the lineup, and that's all the matters right now for the Rays.
"I'm not really concerned yet, not really at all actually, when he's going to be able to play third base," manager Joe Maddon said before Wednesday's game with the Astros. "Just so he can go out there and DH, get him involved in the game. His foot seems to be getting better but that's one of those unpredictable injuries, so we'll just have to wait to get him on the field. But as a DH we'll take it."
Longoria returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three games because of a tear in the plantar fascia tissue in his right foot. He said the foot responded well after his five plate appearances Tuesday.
"If I can be in the lineup and be effective offensively, then that's, obviously, more important than trying to do two things at once and not being able to do either one of them effectively," he said. "I'm happy at where I'm at considering the circumstances. Happy that I'm at least able to be in the lineup. We'll take it day-by-day as far as where we are playing the field."
Jennings back to No. 1
CF Desmond Jennings returned to the top of the order Wednesday. He has been hitting first against lefties but the Astros started RHP Bud Norris on Wednesday.
Maddon said Jennings is the full-time leadoff hitter as long as he remains productive.
"Let's see if Dez can stir it up in the one-hole," Maddon said. "He looked really good the last couple of times up there. Dez is starting to get his strike zone back."
The move was made because Jennings hit .294/.366/.508 since May 27 when he was dropped from the top spot, and because Maddon wanted to shake things up a little for LF Matt Joyce.
Joyce took a 4-for-43 slide into the game.
"Matt's been struggling a bit," Maddon said. "I didn't even realize the (slump). I didn't even know that. I don't really look at those things. I look at the at-bat, the quality of the at-bat. It's not like he's been in trouble. I think the quality of contact has gone back a little bit. Maybe give him a new perspective in the two-hole."
LHP David Price said after Tuesday's game that it was the best he's ever felt on a baseball field, and Maddon said he believed him.
"To watch it, I believe it," Maddon said. "I've seen him good but not that good."
Price struck out 10 in seven innings and threw 70 pitches. He became only the second pitcher since 1999 when pitch-count data first became available to strike out 10 with 70 pitches. Milwaukee's Chris Narveson did it against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 23, 2009, when he fanned 10 on 70 pitches in 5ª innings.
Former Rays 1B Carlos Peña visited with his former team Wednesday during batting practice. He missed the first two games of the series after returning home because of a death in the family.
"It's definitely very awkward seeing them as my adversaries at least for a day or a few days, but it's really cool," Peña said. "I think we all evolve, life itself, we grow, and here I am with the Astros, and honestly I just feel like this is the right place for me to be at. This is a team that is growing and I really want to be part of that growth."
Peña, ever the optimist, called his time with the Rays "magical," and said he thinks the Astros can engineer a turnaround similar to the one in Tampa Bay in 2008.
3B Vince Belnome, RHP J.D. Martin and RHP Kirby Yates of Triple-A Durham were named to the International League All-Star game. Belnome will start. . OF Kevin Kiermaier, 1B Cameron Seitzer, OF Mikie Mahtook and LHP Enny Romero of Double-A Montgomery were named to the Southern League All-Star game. LHP C.J. Reifenhouser also was named to the game but won't play because he was promoted to Durham.