MLB

Longoria will sit out Rays exhibition opener

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP)

The Tampa Bay Rays are being cautious with Evan Longoria after the slugger was hit on his right hand by a pitch during an intrasquad game.

Longoria was injured Thursday. X-rays of his bruised hand were negative, but he won't be in the lineup for the Rays' spring opener against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

''This isn't something that I would anticipate keeps me out for longer than a couple of days,'' Longoria said Friday. ''It felt better waking up today, and it's the same song and dance every time we go through this with me. It's like, as soon as I feel good and I'm able to get out there, I will.''

Longoria was struck in the fleshy part of his hand by a pitch thrown by Matt Bush. The three-time All-Star third baseman spoke with the minor leaguer and told the reliever he didn't blame him.

''I just told him it's part of the game,'' Longoria said. ''It's really unavoidable, and more unfortunate for him because I know he was probably pretty nervous about the whole situation or he felt terrible. But I just assured him that I wasn't upset and, again, it's just part of the game.''

Manager Joe Maddon said Longoria likely will play on Monday against the Orioles. The Rays are going slow with injuries that have limited Sam Fuld, Luke Scott and Carlos Pena.

''All these guys are in pretty good shape, it's just we're taking our foot off the accelerator with them specifically,'' Maddon said. ''If this were the actual season, a lot of these guys would be playing already, but right now you don't want to push it.''

Scott's absence this weekend will give three candidates for backup catcher - Jose Lobaton, Robinson Chirinos and Chris Giminez - an opportunity to get some at-bats at designated hitter.

Maddon's goal heading into the exhibition schedule is maintaining the momentum the Rays generated in September, when they erased a nine-game deficit in the standings to make the playoffs.

''I don't want us to play a different game in April than we're playing right now,'' Maddon said. ''We're going to come out revved up. I don't want anybody going through the motions even though it's just a spring training game. We're still going to be aggressive in everything that we do.

''I'm not necessarily worried that they run hard to first base early on. They know how their legs feel, I don't. That's something I want ready for the season,'' Maddon added. ''But the actual game playing, the things that we do, you're looking at regular season game speed. ... There's no on and off switch.''

NOTES: LHP David Price will get the start on Saturday, pitching one inning. RHPs Chris Archer, Alex Colome and Dane De La Rosa are scheduled to follow. ... Maddon said he hopes to have LHP Matt Moore (lower abdominal strain) pitch by the end of next week. ... The manager said there's no timetable for determining the winner of the competition for the backup catcher's job.

Tagged: Rays, Evan Longoria

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