Tampa Bay Rays Need Evan Longoria and Other Injured Players Back

Jamal WilburgCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 29: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays during batting practice before the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 29, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are treading water.

It has been just over a month since they were last in first place in their division on June 11 and things are not looking good for the team. They have compiled an 11-19 record in the span and continue to seem to find more ways to lose than win. Sometimes it's a passed ball costing a run, an error on a pickoff throw, inept offense or other defensive errors.

The silver lining to the debacle is that they are getting back some of their players that have spent considerable amounts of time on the disabled list. Outfielders Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld are both in rehab assignments and should be back with the team over the next couple of weeks. This should allow Ben Zobrist to return to second base and add some sense of normalcy to the infield lineup.

It's almost as if the team is getting trade deadline acquisitions simply by getting healthy.

Then there is the big pink polka dot elephant in the corner of the room named Evan Longoria.

The team is in desperate need of Longoria to return if they have any hopes of playing in the postseason. The Rays are 31-35 since he injured his hamstring and have had to use a major league leading eight players at third base this season.

The good news again is that the team has managed to stay somewhat afloat and currently sits just one game back in the Wild Card and there is hope that Longoria might begin to rehab soon. Joe Smith from the Tampa Bay Times posted to his Twitter page that Longoria will travel with the team on their upcoming west coast road trip and could possible leave from there to begin rehab assignment.

If that scenario plays true and Longoria can return to the team by the middle of August, they will be in prime position to swim towards the postseason once again. That is, as long as they don't drown waiting on his return.