Longoria snatches second weekly honor
Rays third baseman repeats as AL Player of Week winner
ST. PETERSBURG -- Reporters broke the news to Evan Longoria on Monday that he had been named the American League Player of the Week for the second time this season.
"Oh, I did, I didn't even know," said Longoria when asked about winning the award. "... That's awesome. I guess if we keep winning and the team's doing well and I'm winning awards, everybody's going to be happy."
Well, everybody except the Red Sox.
Tampa Bay's 23-year-old third baseman earned the AL Player of the Week, presented by Bank of America for the period ending May 3, largely for his customary destruction of Boston pitching.
While the Rays took three games of a four-game weekend series against their 2008 AL Championship Series foes, Longoria went 7-for-19 with two homers and 10 RBIs -- including a grand slam on Friday.
Longoria earned the laurels in the season's first week, which he started by going 6-for-14 with two home runs and five RBIs in Tampa Bay's season-opening series against the Red Sox.
Longoria earned his first career Player of the Week Award during his AL Rookie of the Year season in 2008.
For this latest honor, Longoria overcame some stiff competition -- some of it from his own teammates.
The Rays' Carlos Peña hit three home runs during the week to extend his Major League-lead to 11, and teammate Carl Crawford posted 11 stolen bases, lifting his Major League lead to 17.
Longoria deferred credit for his week to the successes of his teammates, like Crawford, who tied a modern Major League record Sunday by stealing six bases.
"With what Carl did yesterday and basically what he's been doing all year, it really puts me and Carlos and Pat [Burrell] in an easy position stealing second and third and all I have to do is hit a ground ball to the shortstop to produce an RBI," Longoria said. "Our table setters are doing a heck of a job."
Longoria also credited Pena and Burrell for their effect on opposing pitchers by hitting behind him in the order.
"That's a huge deal, because the way [Crawford has been] getting on base, if I didn't have somebody behind me that was hitting, I probably wouldn't be getting the pitches I'm getting," Longoria said, "because they're worried about Carl stealing bases, so they have to throw me fastballs. And if [Pena] wasn't hitting, they'd probably just throw me breaking balls and let him steal, then just walk me and I'll go to first. But they can't do that with him hitting behind me."
Rays manager Joe Maddon was not surprised about Longoria being honored.
"You know, he's been doing pretty well," Maddon said. "The thing is he's been so consistent in his approach. I think maybe between five and 10 times I've seen him expand the strike zone this year. And if he's not doing that he's going to hit to a very high level -- and at big moments.
"He likes the big moment. And that's good for us. But watching him very closely, his work's been great. His pregame work has been really good. He's been really focused. So it doesn't surprise me."
Kansas City Royals outfielder Jose Guillen posted three home runs and 10 RBIs. Other nominees were Toronto Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas, who posted an AL-best .500 batting average, and Royals shortstop Alberto Callaspo, who notched seven doubles.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.