However, considering the latest news concerning their top slugger, the next two months could find them struggling to stay afloat.
Third baseman Evan Longoria left Monday night’s game with the Seattle Mariners after attempting to steal second base in the bottom of the third. Longoria’s feet got tangled up with Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, and he immediately winced in pain before getting up and being helped off the field.
On Tuesday morning, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that Longoria could miss a significant amount of time.
Hearing #Rays Longoria has a hamstring issue, guesstimate is he'll be out 6-8 weeks. Could have been worse.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 1, 2012
Shortly after Topkin sent that tweet, Rays vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman tried to dispel that rumor.
Friedman told TBO.com that the report was “premature” and that no tests have been performed on Longoria as of yet.
"We'll see how he feels today," Friedman said. "He's been a very good healer."
For anyone who witnessed the play in question, it certainly looked like something serious. Until any diagnosis of Longoria’s condition is confirmed, there’s no way of telling how Longoria’s absence will affect the Rays in the short or long term. However, if Topkin’s sources are in fact correct, the Rays will need to come up with a Plan B.
Just what would that Plan B entail? Will Friedman be on the horn with other GMs around the league? Will the Rays stick with internal candidates to replace Longoria in the lineup?
The AL East is absolutely up for grabs, and the Rays certainly don’t want to lose any momentum as they head into the month of May.
Here are six potential replacements who could replace Longoria in the lineup, should he be out for an extended period of time.