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Longoria feeling comfortable in NL

@mi_guardado
March 30, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- Evan Longoria had never played a game at Petco Park before last year, an emblem of the learning curve he faced after being traded from the Rays to the Giants. After spending the first decade of his career in the American League East, Longoria found himself thrust

SAN DIEGO -- Evan Longoria had never played a game at Petco Park before last year, an emblem of the learning curve he faced after being traded from the Rays to the Giants.

After spending the first decade of his career in the American League East, Longoria found himself thrust into a new team, a new division and a new ballpark. The transition at times felt disorienting for Longoria, who led the Giants with 16 home runs but saw his overall production decline in an injury-shortened first season in San Francisco.

"It was tough last year," Longoria admitted. "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."

A three-time All-Star with the Rays, Longoria batted .244 with a career-low .694 OPS and drew only 22 walks in 512 plate appearances with the Giants last year. He also fractured the fifth metacarpal in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in Miami, an injury that required surgery and caused him to miss 34 games.

Now healthy, Longoria is ready to move on from that disappointing year and return to his usual form.

"He's in great shape," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He put a lot of hard work in this winter. I think he's a little bit more settled in. That's quite a change, especially for a guy that was the face of the franchise. I think he's gotten rid of the unknown factor on a lot of things. He's a lot more comfortable."

The 2019 campaign is barely underway, but the 33-year-old third baseman has looked like a completely different player through the first two games of the season. After going hitless in his first 17 at-bats last year, Longoria has emerged as the Giants' best hitter thus far, going 3-for-7 and consistently delivering hard contact against the Padres.

His ninth-inning home run Friday gave the Giants their first run of the year and prevented the club from being shut out in back-to-back games to start the season for the first time in franchise history. Familiarity has helped breed a newfound level of comfort for Longoria, who no longer has trouble getting around Petco Park in his second year in the National League.

"Coming into last year, I had never played a game here," Longoria said. "So it's a little bit easier knowing where the entrance is to this place and just feeling a little bit more comfortable walking in the doors."

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