MIAMI -- Evan Longoria (partially-torn left hamstring) ran for the team's trainers Saturday and felt encouraged about the exercise.
"It felt good, it felt good, like I anticipated," Longoria said. "I think we're still moving in the right direction."
Longoria is hopeful he can convince the Rays that he is ready to begin a rehab assignment, which is the necessary step that must be taken before he returns to the team.
"It's a struggle between me and them sometimes," Longoria said. "I understand that their job is to be cautious and get me back to stay back for the whole year and that's definitely my goal, too. We've been going back and forth as far as when I'm going to come back and play."
The Rays' All-Star third baseman said the goal is to return to St. Petersburg and run the bases on Tuesday. Longoria has been out since early May with the hamstring injury.
"If that is all fine and good, hopefully, I'll go out after that, Wednesday or Thursday [to begin a rehab assignment]," Longoria said.
Earlier in the week, Longoria told reporters that he still needed to test how the leg responded to quick bursts. Saturday, he passed that test, at least in his mind.
"I ran about as hard as I would run during a game at any given point," Longoria said. "You know, it's tough to tell what game speed is when you're not playing a game. It's very tough to simulate what it's actually going to be like. And it's even tough to simulate it in a Minor League game, because you don't have the same adrenalin. That's to take nothing away from the Minor League experience and playing down there.
"But when you're thinking about coming back here and wanting to be healthy for this ballclub up here, it's really tough to exert yourself at 100 percent down there. Again, I felt great today. And now it's just a little tug of war and when I'm actually going to go and what they think is best for me."
If Longoria does begin a rehab assignment this week, he faces a logistical problem.
"Right now, it's a little difficult, when we look at the schedule, all our Minor League teams are on the road," Longoria said. "So we're just trying to find a spot that's good. I don't' want to go somewhere where they get rained out three days in a row. At this time of year, there's a lot of rain in the South, so all those factors coming into play, just looking for the best-case scenario to go out and play Wednesday or Thursday, whichever it is.
"I don't have a problem playing in the Florida State League, but the problem is, they're on the road for two days and then they have their All-Star break. That would have been the most ideal, just to stay in the state, but they have a three-day All-Star break right there, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
Once Longoria does begin his rehab assignment, he said he does not know how long it will last.
"I told [bench coach] Davey [Martinez] today and it should be pretty well noted that I feel like, last year when I went through [a rehab stint] with my oblique, I was only gone for like four or five days, I felt like that was a harder thing to come back from, because for the better part of four weeks, I didn't swing at all," Longoria said. "In that case, I needed the at-bats to get myself back into a rhythm. With this, I've been swinging for about three weeks now. And I really didn't miss too much on my feet swinging. So I've just been trying to voice my opinion that the shorter the better.
"The goal for the rehab assignment is, in my opinion, to be able to tell myself and everybody else that after nine innings, the legs are good and I'm healthy enough to get through a full game and recover well and feel fine to play the next day. Other than that, the results aren't going to matter. But the health is obviously the key. So I'm trying to convince them that two, three, four days at the most and I'll be ready to come back."
Rays manager Joe Maddon noted of Longoria's status: "The biggest thing to take from the whole thing is he's much better."
And as for Longoria trying to convince the powers that be that he's ready ...
"Every player is going to do that and you respect that and you appreciate that, but at the end of the day, I'm always going to follow the lead of our medical people," Maddon said. "We have the best trainers in all of Major League Baseball. I mean that. ... The player's always going to give you the perspective that he wants to get back sooner. ... So we have to listen to our medical folks."
Pitchers at the plate
MIAMI -- The Rays' first Interleague game of the season at a National League park Friday night brought two interesting scenarios with Rays pitchers at the plate.
The first came with one out in the top of the fourth when Jeremy Hellickson put down a sacrifice bunt that moved Jose Lobaton to third -- and he didn't have the bunt sign. The play ended up working to the Rays' benefit as it allowed Lobaton to score the club's second run on Will Rhymes' infield single.
"It ended up working out," Hellickson said. "I really wasn't sure of the sign. I thought he gave me the sign."
Hellickson didn't realize he had not gotten the sign until he returned to the dugout.
"I was asking if he gave it to me," Hellickson said. "They said, 'No, we wanted you to swing away.'"
The other moment occurred in the top of the sixth when reliever Burke Badenhop had to hit for himself because Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted him to pitch the sixth.
"I had no clue [when the pitcher's spot was due up]," Badenhop said. "I thought I was fourth or fifth or something."
Instead he was the second hitter.
"They were like, 'You're up second and you're going to hit,'" Badenhop said. "I'm like, 'Oh, you've got to be kidding me.' Then Sean [Rodriguez] pops up on the very first pitch. They told me you don't have to swing if you don't want to. I haven't taken any hacks this year. Our starters have been hacking on the field a ton, and I was 2-for-7 last year."
Badenhop looked at strike three, but he did hold the Marlins scoreless in the sixth.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.