ST. PETERSBURG -- Sam Fuld has been on the 60-day disabled list since April 2 following right wrist surgery. Initially, the prognosis varied for when he might be back. Some said August, others said September and some suggested the Rays outfielder might miss the entire season, his second with the club.
Now the recovery meter appears to be pointing in a different, more positive direction.
Fuld took batting practice Friday, taking approximately 35 swings and feeling fine afterward.
"Up until today, I had two days of short batting practice in the cage, maybe like 15 or 20 swings," Fuld said. "Today was by far the most I've done."
Fuld reported that he has moved past the worried-to-take-a-rip stage during batting practice.
"That's a huge part of getting over any injury," Fuld said. "When I was out there today, I felt myself worrying about my actual swing instead of worrying about my wrist, which is always a good thing.
"I felt great, no pain. [It] still feels a little odd not having taken BP in 2 1/2 months. But I'm really happy about the way it helped."
Fuld has been optimistic from the beginning that he would beat some of the dire estimates regarding when he might return, however ...
"I still haven't gotten to where I need to be, but if you had told me 2 1/2 months ago that I'd be at this point, I would have been very happy," Fuld said.
As for when Fuld might begin a rehab assignment, he said they had initially talked about August, but now they're shooting for the middle of next week. Fuld would likely accompany the team to Cleveland, pay a visit to the Cleveland doctor who performed the surgery, then head for a rehab assignment.
Rays manager Joe Maddon speculated that Fuld would use the maximum amount of days allowed for a position player to rehab, which is 20 days.
"I would imagine he would need all of that," Maddon said. "At-bats, you're going to play, you're going to get rested, you're going to have to work hard to get the swing. All those different ideas or thoughts are going to be involved. So I'm anticipating the max on him."
Fuld could not hide his enthusiasm about his situation.
"I'm happy with where I'm at," he said.
Longoria ready to restart rehab process
ST. PETERSBURG -- After his first at-bat in just his second rehab game for Triple-A Durham, Rays third baseman Evan Longoria removed himself because of discomfort in his left hamstring.
Longoria hasn't played since that game on June 18, but he is restarting his rehab process, which will include batting, fielding and running drills before playing in another rehab game.
"We're finally moving back forward again," Longoria said. "It wasn't like I thought -- it wasn't anything major. ... I've already missed enough time as it is, and I don't want my season to be over at this point by doing something stupid. That was the decision; it was my decision."
During the Rays' most recent road trip, Longoria said all he did was rest the hamstring. It wasn't until the team returned home that he put any stress on it.
He added that he is "not back to square one" and that he feels better now than at any point during the rehab.
The injury, a partial tear of his left hamstring, sidelined Longoria on April 30. The expected recovery period is typically six to eight weeks, and he said he may have tried to come back too quickly.
"When you approach that time, you expect it to be right," Longoria said. "It just wasn't. Again, I'm really happy with the way that it's been. I say that with 100 percent confidence."
There is currently no timetable for Longoria to return to the Rays, because he needs to repeat the process.
"[I need to] go through all of the steps I went through before I went out to rehab the first time," Longoria said. "From the way it feels now, those are going to go a lot quicker."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he trusts his training staff, which he called the best in all of baseball. He said he wants to be patient with Longoria and not try to rush him back.
"Nobody's upset, let's just get him back," Maddon said. "We're only going to the World Series with him."
Longoria was hitting .329 with 19 RBIs in 23 games for Tampa Bay before getting hurt. The team is 25-28 in his absence.
Rays option Gomes, Ramos to Triple-A
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' pitching staff will get a boost Saturday night, but first they had to send two young relievers back to Triple-A Durham to clear room on the roster.
Right-hander Brandon Gomes and lefty Cesar Ramos were optioned after Friday night's 4-2 win over the Tigers, and Tampa Bay will make three roster moves prior to Saturday night's game against Detroit. Starter Jeremy Hellickson will be activated from the 15-day disabled list, reliever Kyle Farnsworth will come off the 60-day DL and reliever Joel Peralta will return after serving an eight-game suspension for using pine tar.
"They're at the point now where they know that they belong here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Gomes and Ramos. "They know that they can pitch here and be successful. It's tough."
This was Gomes' third stint in the Majors this season, and it lasted only a week. He owns a 6.94 ERA and 1.97 WHIP in 11 2/3 innings, but he had been pitching well recently before giving up four runs on four hits and two walks while recording only one out Tuesday in Kansas City.
Ramos will return to Durham for the first time since being recalled May 6. He put together a 1.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 11 appearances spanning 20 2/3 innings.
"It's great to get the quality back that we're getting, but we've developed some really nice young relief pitchers," Maddon said. "And they're great guys. They fit here well. They're great teammates. I think in Spring Training, I spoke of our depth in the bullpen -- there it is."
Rays to give out more Zim Bears at future game
ST. PETERSBURG -- Due to the great demand for the Zim Bear, the Rays announced Friday night that they will be ordering another 10,000 Zim Bears to be given away at a future Rays game.
On Friday night, the first 10,000 fans to arrive to the Tigers-Rays contest received a Zim Bear, which is a miniature teddy bear with the face of Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer.
Since being unveiled during Spring Training, the Zim Bear has gained great popularity, which enhanced the anticipation for Friday night's giveaway. Fans were lined up outside the stadium hours before the first pitch hoping to procure one of the prized dolls.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.