Imagine your favourite team loses its best player to free agency in the offseason, then injury takes away its next best player after only two games, then one of the players specifically acquired to make up for the offense that was lost to free agency retires from baseball. Even in April, most teams would have a hard time rebounding from such losses.
But not the Tampa Bay Rays. Instead of crying over spilled milk, they went to the fridge and got even better tasting milk from a superior mammal. First the legend of Sam Fuld is unleashed on baseball fans, then Johnny Damon goes on a tear and wins the AL Player of the Week, then James Shields allows only a single run in reeling off back to back complete game victories and winning another AL Player of the Week, then Ben Zobrist follows suit by winning another of the weekly awards while hitting two home runs, knocking in ten runs, scoring five of his own while going 7-for-10 all in one day at the plate (granted over a double header).
So, given the team’s recent run of success in the face of adversity, it almost doesn’t seem fair that tonight, Tampa Bay’s star player, Evan Longoria returns to the lineup after missing 26 games. Over the last two seasons, Longoria gave the Rays 14.2 wins above replacement, putting together a .884 OPS with 150 extra base hits. Adding this guy to a team that’s gone 14-5 in its last 19 games is like wrapping dynamite around a missile.
In order to make room for Longoria, the Rays have designated Felipe Lopez for assignment. He’ll have to clear waivers in order to get sent down to Triple A.