Longoria stars off the field in commercials

Evan Longoria embraces being viewed as the face of the Tampa Bay

Rays.

A star on the field, where he’s won numerous awards in less than

two full seasons in the majors, the 24-year-old third baseman also

is establishing himself as the franchise’s most marketable

player.

Longoria’s latest national commercial, a New Era caps spot in

which the two-time All-Star plays a Jason Bourne/Jack Bauer-type

action hero, was filmed in Tampa and began airing on opening

day.

“It’s been a tremendous opportunity, not only for myself but

for the organization. … We haven’t had much of an opportunity to

be on a national stage, so I think it’s a good way for us to kind

of get out there,” Longoria said.

After compiling baseball’s worst record over the first 10

seasons of their existence, the Rays have transformed themselves

into one of baseball’s best teams, built around young talented

players like Longoria.

He was AL rookie of the year in 2008, when he helped Tampa Bay

make a surprising run to the World Series. He collected some

impressive hardware in 2009, too, when he earned his first Gold

Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

His accomplishments and status as one of the game’s rising stars

has caught the attention of advertisers eager sell products.

“First and foremost Evan is a player, two years in, who has

established himself as a great star within the league. But we also

just felt from a personality standpoint, and age-wise, that he was

right for a connection with our consumers,” Gerry Matos, New Era’s

senior vice president of marketing.

Longoria, who shot the commercial on a rare off day during

spring training, had no previous acting experience.

A stunt double was used for some of the action scenes, although

the biggest challenge was getting through the eight-hour production

schedule despite feeling ill.

“It made it a lot tougher than what it really would have been.

… But I think if I had felt good, that commercial would have been

one of the most fun that I’ve done,” Longoria said, adding it was

“neat” working with a double for the first time.

Rays manager Joe Maddon feels the young slugger is handling the

spotlight – on and off the field – well.

“He likes it, and I mean that in a positive way. He doesn’t

necessarily seek it out, but it’s definitely coming to him. I think

he’s prepared himself to deal with it,” Maddon said.

“I like the fact that he doesn’t run away from it. He knows his

responsibility. He knows he’s good. And again, not in a conceited

way. He just knows he’s good, knows his place. He deals with and

handles that stuff very well.”

But don’t look for Longoria to enroll in acting classes, in

hopes of going Hollywood, any time soon.

“It’s one of those things where I don’t want to do too much.

Obviously, baseball comes first and foremost,” he said. “Without

the game, I wouldn’t have an opportunity to do all the commercials

and stuff, so I kind of have to stay on track with the baseball

stuff.”