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Longo faces Rays, 'a huge part of my life'

@mi_guardado
April 5, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said Friday that he spent the last few days studying the Rays to help get his players up to speed on what to expect during their three-game Interleague series at Oracle Park this weekend. "It's a team we don't know a lot about," Bochy said.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy said Friday that he spent the last few days studying the Rays to help get his players up to speed on what to expect during their three-game Interleague series at Oracle Park this weekend.

"It's a team we don't know a lot about," Bochy said.

That isn't the case for everyone on the roster. Evan Longoria is intimately familiar with Tampa Bay, the team that drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2006 Draft and developed him into the face of the franchise before trading the veteran third baseman to the Giants last offseason in exchange for a four-player package highlighted by top infield prospect Christian Arroyo.

Friday's home opener marked Longoria's first time facing the Rays since the trade, and he expects the reunion to be an emotional one for him.

"It was a huge part of my life," Longoria said. "Pretty much all of my growing up and coming into adulthood as a player was spent there. A lot of memories. I don't think it will be as strange and as emotional as if we were playing there, but still, it's going to be different being on the other side of that uniform and trying to beat that team."

A three-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner for the Rays, Longoria thought he would spend the rest of his career in Tampa Bay after signing a six-year, $100 million extension -- the richest contract in franchise history -- in November 2012. But last winter's trade uprooted him from the only place he'd ever known.

Longoria wound up struggling in his first season with the Giants, posting a career-low .694 OPS and missing 34 games after breaking his left hand on a hit-by-pitch.

"It was tough last year," Longoria said during Spring Training. "It was even tougher than I thought it was going to be. More mentally than anything. You try to prepare as much as you can for it, but a lot of times the unknown is something that you've got to kind of just go through and figure out how to cope with."

Longoria has looked far more comfortable in his second year with San Francisco and has opened the season closer to the All-Star form he held with the Rays. He remains close with Tampa Bay outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, as well as manager Kevin Cash, general manager Erik Neander and scout Fred Repke, the man responsible for drafting him 13 years ago.

Longoria said he hopes to carve out time to catch up with his friends this weekend.

"I'd like to be able to make time if not for just a beer or something, just to say hello outside of kind of competing on the field," Longoria said. "I think they owe me that. And I owe them that."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Mac Williamson cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento. Williamson, 28, was designated for assignment last week after hitting .237 with a .608 OPS during Spring Training.

• As a junior at Florida State, Buster Posey received the Johnny Bench Award, which is given annually to the top collegiate catcher in the nation. That prestigious honor will now bear his name. The Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced earlier this week that the prize will now be known as the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.