3B Evan Longoria does not have a timetable for when he will return from his partially torn left hamstring that forced him to miss his 54th game Friday night, but he said his leg feels the best it has since he suffered the injury April 30.
"We're not back to square one by any means," Longoria said. "I've actually been feeling better these last couple of days than I had at any point during the rehab, even when I went out to play. Whatever we (had to get) past, we're past it, and I think it's just a matter of fighting the urge to go hard right now and letting it heal up to 100 percent. The last time … I probably tried to do a little too much too soon. I'm just happy I didn't injure it really, really badly and now I think we're back on track."
Longoria said he will have to repeat all the steps he took before heading out to his first minor league rehab assignment that ended three innings into his second game. He will use drills to build up to baseball activities then start another rehab assignment at a date to be determined.
"I just have a strong feeling that those steps will go a lot faster this time as opposed to spending two, three days on any given thing," he said.
Longoria also said he will let Rays head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield call the shots this time instead of perhaps not being truthful with Porterfield to accelerate the rehab process, which he admitted to doing several weeks ago.
"His eyes really don't lie. I'm going to let him see it for himself," Longoria said. "If he feels confident I'm going to feel 100 percent confident."
Longoria said he told Porterfield, "I'm telling you I feel really good and I'm not crossing my fingers behind my back.' That's positive. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said Longoria looks better even just walking through the clubhouse, but knows the team has to be cautious with the three-time All-Star and Gold Glove fielder. The Rays let Longoria push the rehab the first time and do not want to see a similar setback.
"Let's just get him rolling and get him back," Maddon said. "We'll be going to the World Series with him."
Fuld ahead of schedule
OF Sam Fuld, who has not played this season after undergoing surgery on his right wrist during the last week of spring training, took on-field batting practice Friday for the first time since late March and was ecstatic about how his wrist felt.
"In terms of volume and overall aggressiveness, definitely the most intense," Fuld said of his swings.
Fuld wasn't able to swing pain-free since he initially suffered the injury last September in Baltimore. It delayed his start to spring training and plagued him as he tried play through the pain.
"That's the hard part about getting over an injury," Fuld said, "and when I was out there (Friday) I found myself worrying about my actually swing and not my wrist, which is always a good thing."
The original prognosis had Fuld not returning before August, but he thinks that was more of a cautious timetable than anything else.
"As long as things continue to go well this week it shouldn't be too long," Fuld said. "I know we talked about August initially, but I think we can be looking at the end of this homestand."
Hellickson returns today
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right shoulder fatigue) will be activated from the disabled list and start against the Tigers tonight.
Hellickson, who missed two starts, said the shoulder feels fine.
"It's ready to go," he said.
RHP Joel Peralta returns from his eight-game suspension today for having pine tar inside his glove … RHP Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow strain) is expected to be activated from the disabled list today … The Zim Bear promotion was such a hit Friday the Rays order 10,000 more and will hold a second Zim Bear night later in the season … Tonight is turn back the clock night. The Rays will wear uniforms reminiscent of the kind wore during the major leagues in 1979 and Earth, Wind & Fire will perform the postgame concert … Dick Stockton and Tim McCarver will work tonight's FOX telecast.