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Rays

Longoria finally back to feeling good

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:37 PM
PORT CHARLOTTE -

Pain in his left oblique. Pain in his left foot. Pain in his left hamstring. You want a word to describe Evan Longoria's 2011 season, you can start with painful.

"He was beat up. He played through a lot of stuff last year," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He won't talk about it, but he really was."

You want another word to describe Longoria's season? How about productive?

Despite missing 26 games at the beginning of the season with a left oblique strain, the third baseman led the team in home runs (31), RBIs (99) and walks (80). His two home runs on the final night of the regular season helped propel the Rays into the playoffs.

If Longoria proved anything last season it's he can play through pain.

"He did, and he had a great year," Maddon said. "At the end of the day what he did, hitting that home run on the last day, that's a pretty good season right there to come back from where he came back from."

The strained oblique, which Longoria sustained during the second game of the season, and the Morton's Neuroma he developed in his left foot after he returned from the disabled list were not related. But the sore left hamstring was a result of Longoria running on his toes as a means of reducing the stress on his foot caused by Morton's Neuroma.

Combined, the three forced Longoria and the Rays training staff to alter his offseason conditioning, which is how Longoria found himself at Spooner Physical Therapy in Phoenix four times a week working through a program that was three dimensional.

"Zero weight training but a lot of movement that actually, in my opinion, translates better into baseball stuff," Longoria said. "A lot of the workouts were conceived from a lot of the stuff we do on the field, forward and back and a lot of rotational stuff."

The program could best be described as a full chain workout, where instead of isolating one body with a dumbbell roll, Longoria would work on his legs, core, arms and shoulders with a cable roll.

"They kind of start from the ground up with everything moving together," Longoria said. "It's different from going into the weight room and throwing up the bench press and doing squats. Those things are good, but they're not really specific for what we do."

Longoria's offseason started with surgery to repair the Morton's Neuroma, a condition on the ball of his foot between the third and fourth toe that produced a bubble caused by irritation. Wearing spikes only made the pain – described as a toothache – worse. Longoria changed spikes after the All-Star Break, but that only decreased the pain.

"To come out every day and have these little nagging things going on, it just prevents things from flowing like you'd want them to," Maddon said. "Everybody plays our game every day with something that is not just 100 percent right, but his was a little bit beyond that. It would be nice to have him start out the season feeling pretty spiffy about things and not having to, in the back of his mind, worry about different items."

After the rehab from the surgery, Longoria began a 10-day juice diet that caused him to shed 10 pounds and feel great.

"The first three days were miserable," he said. "Hunger pains to the max. Bad headaches. But once you get over that hump I felt great. It was almost as if a (switch was flipped). I had more energy than I ever had. I felt like I could go all day without yawning or being tired at all. It was pretty cool to see the transition, but it definitely took some getting used to, and it was not fun the first couple of days."

Longoria has since resumed his normal diet, since a diet of juice wasn't going to cut it once he started working out at Spooner. He reported last week to camp at 210 pounds. He's leaner and certainly healthier than he was last season.

"There were some things I had to change, obviously," he said of his past offseason programs. "I think this one helped me a lot. I feel good coming in to camp, so I'm excited."


rmooney@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7227

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