CLEVELAND -- Heading into Saturday night's contest against the Indians, the Rays had committed 68 errors, which ranked them second worst in the Major Leagues, behind the Orioles (74).
"Defensively, we have made some gaffes," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. Will Rhymes committed the latest error when he dropped a pop fly in Friday night's game. Maddon explained how the fielding problems can take a toll on the pitching staff.
"Even last night we missed a popup and that leads to more pitches," Maddon said. "Those are the little things that you don't even understand."
Maddon created a hypothetical situation.
"You drop a popup," Maddon said. "Just say the next guy up hits a home run. All of a sudden the pitcher feels like he had a bad outing. All of a sudden you have to get somebody [warmed up in the bullpen] you don't want to. Then all of a sudden there's more of a strain on the pitchers in the latter part of the game. All of these things they happen with a routine play that has to be made. That's one thing we have to get better at, the routine play. ... We have to get better at routine."
Maddon believes his team will get better at making the routine play.
"And when we do get better, which we will, then the pitch count comes down," Maddon said. "There's less stress on the pitcher not having to work so hard for his outs. He's pitching deeper into the game, [less stress on] the bullpen, blah, blah, blah, so all of those things are connected.
"We've been very fortunate that we've played well on defense the last couple of years. That has allowed all this pitching stuff to work better. And I believe that we can again. We just have to be proactive in regard to making our defense better than we are right now."
August return date for Longoria may be likely
CLEVELAND -- Evan Longoria's partially-torn left hamstring has not healed according to plan.
Originally, he was supposed to be out six to eight weeks. Now, based on Friday night's news that he will not resume baseball activities until after the All-Star break, it's reasonable to assume that the first part of August is the earliest he will be back with the team.
"I have no idea when he's going to actually be able to play again," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "... It's probably going to take more than less time to get him back on the field."
The progression to be followed will be for Longoria to begin baseball activities again to a point where he's comfortable enough to play in games. He would then head to one of the Rays' Minor League teams for a rehab assignment. And if all goes well there, he can then re-join the team.
In the meantime, how will the Rays patch the hole at third? Do they continue using a collection of players at the position or do they go out and get somebody?
"We're talking about different things all the time," Maddon said. "It's such a hard one to create conjecture about. ... Looking at all the options, which [Rays executive vice-president of baseball operations] Andrew [Friedman] does, you have a trade deadline coming up. We normally don't do anything at that time.
"We'll just have to see how this plays out for the rest of the month. Maybe somebody will surface from within that can really take that job and run with it.... There's nothing really in the makings right now."
Longoria was hitting .329 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 23 games before his injury on April 30. Maddon said he never likes to hear that a player has a hamstring injury, so he has never felt good about Longoria's injury.
"I just don't like hamstring injuries," Maddon said. "Being the poor athlete that I was, I injured my hamstrings several times. I know they're difficult. They're not easy. They're tenuous at best. You can start feeling better then you don't.
"... You just don't know with this injury. It's a tough injury to overcome and it's a tough injury to battle back from. I have a lot of faith in [head athletic trainer] Ron [Porterfield] and a lot of faith in Longo. But it's a tough one."
Longoria has played in just 156 of a possible 246 games the past two seasons due to injuries. Maddon was asked if, when looking toward the future, the Rays are going to have to begin factoring in the possibility that Longoria has a good chance of getting injured.
"I don't know," Maddon said. "I honestly haven't even thought about that. I can't argue with the point that he's been hurt the last couple of years in different ways. I'm not there worrying about that right now."
Longoria was in the midst of a rehab assignment on June 18 when he had to leave the game he was playing in for Triple-A Durham after feeling discomfort in his hamstring.
Vogt, Gomez receive Minor League honors
CLEVELAND -- Stephen Vogt has been named the Rays Minor League Player of the Month for June. Roberto Gomez has been named the Rays Minor League Pitcher of the Month for June.
Vogt, who plays for Triple-A Durham, was third in the International League in hitting in June, batting .364 with 12 extra-base hits, five home runs and 19 RBIs.
Gomez is the second Single-A Bowling Green pitcher to be named the organization's Pitcher of the Month (also Felipe Rivero in April). In six starts, he went 5-0 with a 1.34 ERA, and held opponents to a .225 batting average.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.