Rocked by injury last season, there was definitely reason to be nervous over the health of Evan Longoria heading into 2013, but if his Opening Day performance is anything to go by, the Tampa Bay Rays may have an MVP Award winner on their hands.
In their first outing of the season, the Rays suffered a disappointing home loss to the Baltimore Orioles, that was inspired by a three run homer for Chris Davis in the seventh, however the true battle was between Longoria and Manny Machado, with both impressing at third base.
Longoria, the 2-time Gold Glove winner, made a range of highlight plays throughout the game, including a strong throw from a sitting position to rob Adam Jones of a base hit–that after a rolling dive to stop the ball. Later, a second diving play saw him, in one motion, scoop the ball and power it to first base. And to round the day off in WebGem style, Longoria made a bare handed grab to end Matt Wieters hopes of a single.
Longoria’s athleticism at third base base isn’t new, but given that it is so early in the season it is refreshing to see the 3-time All Star make the plays we all know he is capable of, especially after injury curtailed his time in 2012.
To be in line for an MVP award, Longoria will need to prove he still has the power that earned him a Silver Slugger award in 2009, but with a lineup that could rely on his production throughout the season, Longoria is expected to rise and meet the challenge.
Longoria will have doubtlessly preferred his performance not to have been in vain, given that it came in a game that saw the Rays’ bullpen lose a lead late on, but that didn’t seem to put him off as he took to the field this evening.
Longo made another fantastic bare handed grab to make a strong case for early candidacy for this year’s Gold Glove, and the Orioles must be sick of the sight of him.
‘Welcome Home’ is the motto of the 2013 Rays, and it applies perfectly to Longoria, who is giving his all at third base for those at the Trop.