Evan Longoria's here to stay

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BALTIMORE -- Rays third baseman Evan Longoria stood in front of his locker and took a pair of half swings as he readied to take the field for the first time at Camden Yards on Tuesday.

The past two months have been quite a ride for one of the game's top prospects. Expecting to make the Tampa Bay roster out of camp, he was sent to Class AAA Durham to start the season. Two weeks later, he was called up to the big leagues for the first time, and days after that, Longoria signed a six-year contract that could be worth as much as $44 million.

Longoria would go 1-for-3 with a walk as the Rays lost to the Orioles 7-4 that night, raising his average to .275 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in his first month of action. Back at his locker, he talked about what it felt like to be cut from the major-league roster out of spring training, signing that big contract and his plans for a first date.

Holden Kushner: Evan, take me through what was going through your mind walking from the on-deck circle into the batter's box for your first major-league at-bat on April 12, against Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera?

Evan Longoria: I was a little bit nervous, obviously, to finally be getting back with the club and getting thrown in there from the get-go. I really didn't get a chance to settle in, but it was a good feeling to get that first one out of the way. Everything was going so quickly. My mind was racing, but I was thinking about my planting, about my approach and what I had seen in the video earlier that day.

HK: You and I had talked a little bit about how you have to make adjustments in the middle of a game.

EL: I've seen more and more in the big leagues now, guys can throw pitches more consistently and where they want them. I've had to reassess my plan every at-bat because if they beat you, they're probably going to try to do something similar the next time around. I've had to make some adjustments. Guys have been throwing to me hard inside.

HK: Getting back to the news of when you found out you were getting called up, who told you and who was the first person you called?

EL: I got the news from our Triple-A manager. They always call guys into the clubhouse to let them know you're going up, where you're going, when you're going, the whole bit. My mom was definitely the first person I called, because she's the most excited to hear that. She was No. 1 on the list.

HK: What was her reaction?

EL: I think she was a little bit in shock and disbelief since it was so quick. I thought I was going to be down in Durham (N.C.) for a month, a month and a half or so, but with Willie [Aybar] going down and them needing a spot filled, it was a little quicker. She was excited.

HK: Let's revisit that. In hindsight, what was your reaction to getting sent down at the beginning of the season?

EL: A little disappointed. I felt I had a pretty good spring campaign, that I had done what I needed to do in the offseason to get myself ready. That was a decision that obviously was pretty tough for them. They had to do what they had to do and I was ready to accept that role.

HK: What was the reason they gave you for sending you down?

EL: They just said it was for my own development. They wanted me to see more pitches and get some more Triple-A at-bats, so I took it for what it was, went down there and worked hard.

HK: Any inkling that you would get the contract that you got?

EL: Not so much. There were obviously a few talks here and there between the club and my agent, but I don't really handle any of that. I let it be as it is and when it got down to us getting closer to terms, I kind of got involved, but I really had no idea from the beginning.

HK: What kind of message did it send you that this club was going to give you a long-term deal with just a few days of big league service?

EL: It was a good feeling. It's always good when you know that the club and the personnel inside the clubhouse want you to be around here for a long time. It is very humbling for me. I'm happy to get that out of the way and am excited to be here for a long time.

HK: Was it much of a decision knowing that you were going to get a lot of money immediately, although you could have a big first few years and forfeit a little money in the long run?

EL: Who knows what could happen in this game? It's so unpredictable, and for myself, I just wanted to have the financial security and service time in the major leagues. By the time I'm 30 years old, I'll have had nine years in the big leagues and be ready for free agency. [At that point] I'll hopefully go out and get another big contract.

HK: Let's talk about this team. You're going to be batting fifth here in a pretty loaded lineup. Your record is 14-11. I've got to think that there were a lot of guys in this locker room that felt that you were going to be successful this year, but this quickly?

EL: Our lineup is loaded. To be hitting behind [Carlos] Pena and protecting him, I have to come to the field and produce every day. That's what I'm trying to do.

HK: On Sunday, you were at the plate against Red Sox ace Josh Beckett and took him deep for a solo home run. No way you were planning that were you?

EL: No, I wasn't. He got the best of me the first two at-bats and I was trying to battle him tough. Fortunately, he made a mistake.

HK: I talked to Pena and B.J. Upton in spring training and they said that they expect to go to the postseason this year. Do you feel that that's still the consensus in this locker room?

EL: I definitely feel that. We've got a lot of guys in here who want to win, and who are starting to believe in the club. I think once that happens, things start to come together.

HK: What do you talk about when there is a runner on third?

EL: It's always different. If I saw the guy the night before, hanging out somewhere, we might talk about that. Or we might talk about whether or not he's going to run on contact if he's tagging up, just B.S.-ing a bit.

HK: You're telling me a guy is actually going to tell you if he's running on contact?

EL: No, he won't tell you that, but maybe I can get a reaction out of him.

HK: Where do you take a girl on a first date?

EL: To a nice restaurant.

HK: Really, that's it?

EL: Maybe a movie and to a nice restaurant.

HK: Boring. But you're a ballplayer and can get away with it. Not me.

EL: [Smiles].

HK: Is Evan Longoria a dog guy or a cat guy?

EL: A dog guy, for sure. Got two -- two weiner dogs, dachshunds. I love them.