ARLINGTON -- Evan Longoria, who missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a left quadriceps injury, clearly isn't running well. He isn't hitting either, but manager Joe Maddon doesn't necessarily think the two things are related.
"The biggest thing about his hitting to this point -- I think he has been out of his zone a little bit," Maddon said. "I think he is trying too hard at the plate and trying to do too much and he has been expanding the strike zone. Otherwise I think he looks relatively normal. He is not there, I agree with you 100 percent. Overall, I would like to see him get back into the strike zone, swing at pitches he likes and not expand [the zone]."
Longoria was again in the cleanup spot for Game 4 of this American League Division Series on Sunday afternoon, with the Rays trying to stave off elimination against the Rangers for the second straight day.
After belting a single in his first at-bat of the series, Longoria took an 11 at-bat hitless streak into Game 4. But Maddon was encouraged by Longoria's final at-bat of Game 3, when he flew out to right-center.
"I thought it was one of the better pitches he has seen, and he drove it pretty well," Maddon said.
Longoria is obviously gutting through the injury -- something that can be seen every time he tries to run out a grounder.
"He is affected," Maddon said. "You saw him running to first base -- he can't run like he is normally able to. This guy can steal bases -- he is a very good base runner. Defensively, again, he is limited a little bit, range [to his] left and right."
Playing hunch, Maddon starts Brignac at short
ARLINGTON -- Hunches are a manager's prerogative, and Joe Maddon acted on one Sunday by starting Reid Brignac at shortstop instead of Jason Bartlett.
"I have confidence in both of these guys and it's just really close calling between both of them versus this pitcher today," Maddon said. "And honestly, with the right field the way it is here, Reid has that kind of pop [that] he may walk into something today."
Maddon noted that defensively the two are similar players.
"So there's just maybe more of a hunch thing," Maddon said. "But I normally don't go with what you would call a hunch, but looking at the numbers, they are really similar between the two players versus this pitcher today. ... Reid sitting for a couple of days normally comes up and does a pretty good job."
Brignac has a single in three career at-bats with a strikeout against Texas Game 4 starter Tommy Hunter while Brignac is 2-for-7 with two strikeouts against the right-hander.
Maddon added that Brignac could bring some "new energy" to the lineup Sunday and he is not concerned about Brignac being able to handle the moment.
Brignac has rewarded Maddon when he has had similar hunches this season by coming through with some big hits, including the July 17 game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium when Brignac fueled a 10-5 win with two home runs and five RBIs. Brignac also had a walk-off home run against the Yankees in the Rays' 1-0 win at Tropicana Field on Sept. 13.