Former Long Beach State standout Evan Longoria provides a complete package for Rays

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By Ben Bolch
Los Angeles Times

August 22, 2010

Swinging the bat came naturally for Evan Longoria. Speaking his mind took some nurturing.

The Tampa Bay Rays third baseman was already one of the most dynamic young players in baseball two months ago when he did something that fledgling stars are often reluctant to do: call out a teammate.

Longoria confronted B.J. Upton in the dugout after the outfielder jogged toward a ball hit in the left-center field gap at Tropicana Field, allowing Arizona’s Rusty Ryal to stretch what should have been a double into a triple.

Upton was so incensed that he had to be restrained by teammates, but Longoria’s gesture solidified his standing as a clubhouse leader and galvanized a team that had lost 19 of 31 games to fall into third place in the American League East.

“He’s got all the tools necessary to lead, and the best one of all is that he doesn’t know it,” Rays first baseman Carlos Pena said. “He’s very humble and leads by example and is just himself. If he has something to say to a brother of his, he’ll say it.”

His teammates heard him, loud and clear. Tampa Bay has leapfrogged Boston to move into second place in its division and is on the verge of running away with the wild-card race, opening a 5