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Rays

Maddon pleased to see Fuld make return

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:40 PM
BALTIMORE -

Rays manager Joe Maddon couldn't settle on one title of the Sam Fuld sequel that began Tuesday at Camden Yard.

"Sammy II?" "Back in the Fuld Again?" "Fuldfather, Part 2?" "Back to the Fuld, Part 2?"

Maddon had a ton of them.

Whatever it's called, Maddon just hopes Fuld's return to the Rays after right wrist surgery on April 3 is deserving of a title and a big "Thumbs Up."

"Last year he was a big part of the beginning of everything last year," Maddon said. "Sam can make a huge impact – offensively, defensively and on the bases. He does a lot of things well … the energy he brings to the game. It's just nice to have him back."

Fuld has been one of the players Maddon has talked about needing back to help the Rays stagnant offense and was immediately inserted into Tuesday's starting lineup.

"I feel like I could play everyday if needed," Fuld said. "I'm pretty happy with where (the wrist) is at. It never really enters my mind."

Sooner than later?

Maddon said before the game to expect 3B Evan Longoria to begin a rehab assignment soon, maybe while the Rays are on the nine-game road trip that began Tuesday.

Longoria is on the trip and worked out before the game under the eyes of Maddon and head trainer Ron Porterfield.

"He had a good day," Maddon said. "He did some hitting, some running, took some ground balls, threw the ball. I thought he looked pretty good. I know he was pleased and I know I was pleased watching. He was not favoring the leg when he ran, unlike the last time when there was more of a guarding that I didn't see this time."

While almost every trade rumor involving the Rays includes a third baseman, Maddon said he would welcome Longoria back, even as only a designated hitter for awhile.

"He may be a bit closer than you think," Maddon said. "You should not be surprised if his rehab assignment starts on this road trip. He can DH. There's nothing wrong with that."

Maddon also said he doesn't expect Longoria's rehab stine to last more than three or four games.

"The defensive side can be controlled by hitting ground balls daily," Maddon said. "It's just going to be about timing and seeing pitches. He's been taking a lot of batting practice. I don't know that (the rehab) will be long because I don't think we're going to ask him to play defense and run a lot."

More lineup tweaking

Maddon had said for a few weeks he wanted Desmond Jennings hitting leadoff and with the return of Fuld did just that.

Jennings moved to the No. 1 spot and moved B.J. Upton to second.

"I think (Jennings) is ready," Maddon said. "I hope he is. I want to believe he's back for good. If we're going to go to the Promise Land this year, he needs to be at the top of the batting order."

Jennings has led off 53 times this season but recently was dropped to seventh recently.

"I do like him and B.J. (Upton) back-to-back at the top," Maddon said. "I'll probably move (Carlos Pena) down a little bit but I'm not exactly sure where yet."

Pena, who was not in the starting lineup for only the fourth time this season, had been hitting in the No. 2 spot.'

Rick Harmon

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