Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 3/1/12
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. It was just a nice little intrasquad game for the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday morning. But the mood suddenly turned serious when a pitch in the top of the fourth by Matt Bush struck the right hand of batter Evan Longoria. Luckily for Longo and the Rays, the ball struck the fleshy part of his hand beneath the thumb, and the scare was only a fleeting one. After starting last season with an oblique injury that sidelined him more than a month, the last thing the Rays star third baseman and offensive catalyst wanted to deal with was a fractured hand. Its just a bruise, he said later. Its sore, but getting hit by a pitch is part of the game. The X-rays were negative, and thats good. Now its day to day, and we will see how it feels tomorrow. At this point, we just need to get the swelling out of there. Added manager Joe Maddon: He should be fine. (Trainer) Ronnie (Porterfield) was just icing it down, that kind of stuff. But Ronnie was not very concerned. It was a good spot to be hit on the hand. Other than that bit of unwanted excitement, the three-and-a-half-inning scrimmage served as a good tune-up for the Rays. Newcomer Jeff Keppinger provided one highlight with a blast off the wall in left-center that he legged into a triple. And Reid Brignac, coming off a .193 season, hit a solo home run to right. Cesar Ramos pitched the first inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced, and reliever Josh Lueke, acquired in the offseason from Seattle, also pitched a scoreless first with one strikeout. And Alex Cobb, making his first appearance since surgery last August to remove a blood clot, also retired all three batters he faced in the second. I thought Cesar Ramos started us off well, he looked really sharp, pitching-wise, Maddon said. I thought Lueke threw the ball well. I also liked the execution. Were trying to do different things. The execution was crisp . We were able to do the different things we wanted to do. We got signs everybody knew what was going on. It was kind of like a dry-run before the first game. Im impressed, and I appreciate the energy of the group. You put them in situations like that, sometimes guys will just go through the motions, and you dont get the same benefit out of what youre trying to do. I definitely respect that about our players, that they never just go through the motions when were working on anything. And that helps us get it down right. The Rays spring training schedule begins Saturday with a game in Fort Meyers against Minnesota at 1:05 p.m., followed by a home contest in Port Charlotte on Sunday at 1:05 p.m., also against the Twins.
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