After serving as the DH in the Tampa Bay's 5-3 win against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, Evan Longoria is expected to return to third base tonight when the Rays begin a three-game series with the A's.
Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria will alternate between third and DH during the series and will probably play third on consecutive days with the occasional break as the DH on the upcoming road trip.
Longoria said he is "onboard" with that plan.
"Whatever (Maddon) says," Longoria said. "We haven't really talked one-on-one about it. It's kind of an issue that (head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and executive VP of baseball Andrew Friedman) and Joe have been talking about as far as matchup situations, keeping me fresh and all that, but my legs have felt good and that's the most important thing. Whatever they want me to do I'll do at this point, but sometime in the near future I'm going to want to go out and play third base every day."
Maddon said he will continue to monitor Longoria's innings at third. On Tuesday, Maddon pulled Longoria after seven innings, which meant Longoria was not available to hit when the Rays had a runner on first base in the ninth inning of a 0-0 game.
"First day game back, a lot of time off, I just thought it would be foolish to permit him (to keep playing)," Maddon said. "Just say he goes after a pop-up, just something awkward happens, I'm not a second-guesser but that's when I would second-guess myself."
Shields continues to roll
RHP James Shields held the Royals to three runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings Wednesday and improved to 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA over his last five starts, a run that began the day of the non-waiver trade deadline.
"That's just a coincidence," Maddon said.
The reason behind the streak is the commitment Shields made to throwing more fastballs.
"My delivery has been really, really low since the beginning of this month and my change-up is back in action, so it's going north to south rather than side-to-side, so that's good," Shields said.
They'll take it
The Rays catch a break with RHP Bartolo Colon's 50-game suspension for failing Major League Baseball's drug test, since Colon was 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
Colon was supposed to start tonight. Instead, the A's will throw Tyson Ross, who was summoned from Triple-A. Ross allowed 9 runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings against the Rays on May 4, his lone start against them this season.
"Even when we got him this guy had a good arm, but it could possibly alter our plans here a little bit," Maddon said. "I know it's tough for them. They're in the middle of some things right now."
This is unusual
The Rays are one of the highest strikeout teams in the majors, yet they whiffed only once Wednesday and that came in the eighth inning when CF B.J. Upton went down swinging for the second out.
Had Upton made contact, the Rays would have completed a game without a strikeout for only the seventh time in franchise history. It was only the second time in the past three seasons the Rays fanned just once in a game. The other time was June 18, 2011 against the Marlins.
The recent Rays-Angels series will be featured at 9 p.m. tonight on "Caught Looking," an MLB production that will be aired on the NBC Sports Network … The Rays have allowed three runs or less in 30 of the 38 games since the All-Star break … The Rays have forced a major league-high 13 balks this season … RHP Fernando Rodney is the first pitcher since saves became an official stat in 1969 to have 39 saves and a 0.77 ERA at this point of the season … Of the Royals' 18 hits during the series, 16 were singles … The Rays have won 13 of their last 16 with all three losses by one run.