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Longoria embraces leadership role

@mi_guardado
July 14, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- As he prepares to enter his 13th season in the Majors, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria can’t help but feel energized by the wave of youth that has flooded Oracle Park this summer. Following the cancellation of the Minor League season, the Giants invited six of their

SAN FRANCISCO -- As he prepares to enter his 13th season in the Majors, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria can’t help but feel energized by the wave of youth that has flooded Oracle Park this summer.

Following the cancellation of the Minor League season, the Giants invited six of their top 10 prospects to train alongside seasoned veterans like Longoria, who is serving as another source of knowledge and wisdom for the younger players in camp.

“It’s fun to see guys like that out here because they’re kind of wide-eyed,” Longoria said Monday. “I remember when I was in the same situation that they were. It’s fun to see the energy and the excitement that comes from guys’ faces like that. I try to continue to feed off of that. I think some of those guys are pretty close. They’re not too far behind. There’s a lot of youth there, so there’s some good things to look forward to in the future.”

Longoria, 34, said he’s already had conversations with infielder Will Wilson and 2020 first-round Draft pick Patrick Bailey, but he’s paying particularly close attention to No. 1 prospect Joey Bart, whom he called “the closest that we have in terms of breaking through at the big league level and being an impact player right out of the chute.”

“I like to rag on guys, but in the right way,” Longoria said. “I’m on Joey a little bit. I’m kind of hard on him, but it’s because I really like him as a player and I think he has the potential to be a special player.”

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The Giants will be without the unquestioned leader of their clubhouse (catcher Buster Posey has elected not to play in 2020 to help care for the prematurely born twin girls he and his wife recently adopted), but the presence of Longoria and veterans like Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, Jeff Samardzija and Hunter Pence should help steady the club during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.

“I hope that we have Buster back to be the leader that we know he is next year,” Longoria said. “Personally, I will continue to do the same things that I have done to be a part of the leadership group on this team. I think we have plenty of guys that have been around here that are leaders in different areas of the group. Not all of that responsibility is going to fall on me, and for that, I’m happy. I can only do so much. We’ll all, I think, lean on each other to help out.”

With expanded rosters and improved positional versatility this year, the Giants are expected to rely heavily on platoons to optimize matchups and give themselves their best chance at staying competitive over the course of the 60-game season. Longoria, who is signed through 2022 with a club option for ‘23, will be one of the few players who will be counted on to play every day, underscoring his role as a key offensive pacesetter and anchor for the lineup this year.

“That’s something that I’ve really prided myself on over the course of my career, and I look forward to doing it again this year,” Longoria said. “I have that belief going in, that I’ll be in there a good majority of the time. If that changes or if there’s something different, then we’ll have to have that conversation when we get there. But I do think we have a ton of good options to put out there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a ton of different lineups every day.”

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