ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena has been in a season-long funk with the bat, so most assumed that he was getting some extra attention when he was seen in the batting cage working with manager Joe Maddon on Monday afternoon. Turned out the exercise wasn't a hard-pressed lesson in getting him back on track.
"We just turned back the clock to 1987," Maddon said. "We turned back the clock in the batting cage. So it was more for me than it was for him. Just wanted to run some things by him, things I did many years ago, simple stuff without changing anything. I talked to [hitting coach Derek Shelton] about it in advance. Shelty and I are pretty much always on the same page when it comes to doing things. Just wanted to get out there today, specifically work with him and see what happens."
Maddon went on to explain that 1987 was his first season as a hitting instructor in the Angels' organization
"It was lively," Maddon said. "There was a lot of stuff going on in '87 -- it was an interesting time."
Longoria still day-to-day with quad strain
ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria remains day-to-day with a left quad strain suffered on a defensive play Thursday against the Yankees.
When asked about the injury on Monday, the Rays third baseman said it has felt better every day.
Meanwhile, Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was getting the vibe that Longoria was feeling pretty well, too.
"And I'm just basing that on the fact that he said, 'I'm feeling pretty good,'" Maddon said. "And also, he's smiling a lot. A lot of times when players are hurt and they're coming off injury, you can almost tell by the look on their face. There's that real concerned look, they're concerned and not sure. And they're always testy. But he seems to be in a good place."
Longoria played catch and went through some drills on Monday.
"I still think he's a couple of more days out," Maddon said. "If he's ready to play by the time we get to Kansas City, I'll be happy."
When asked about how concerned he was about having his cleanup hitter on the shelf, Maddon smiled and said, "Well, it's never comforting.
"There's always certain back-of-the-mind issues that you have to be prepared for. But I really believe he's going to be fine. We'll probably just have to monitor what we do with him a little bit as we move forward. And he might have to monitor how he moves in the game."
And there actually could be a silver lining in having Longoria miss a little time as Maddon had been contemplating giving him some rest.
"He was missing some fastballs for about a week or so, but all of a sudden he started getting them again," Maddon said. "He has that mental ability to play every day. He's able to process the day where if he has a bad day, it doesn't linger with him. He's got one of those athletic bodies and minds. He doesn't get bogged down in details. But I was looking toward giving him some time off."
Maddon contemplating playoff rotation
ST. PETERSBURG -- While the Rays have not yet officially made the playoffs, that has not stopped postseason-related questions from being directed at the manager. Specifically, has he set his rotation for the first round of the playoffs?
"Seventy-five percent of the body of work is there," Joe Maddon said. "But there is still some information I want to see. You know how we are, it's about the research done going into each series. Whether it's our previous history against a certain group or our numbers, how does that fit against a certain group? And after all of those numbers are determined, that may impact those decisions also."
Maddon said he talked to Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman about the rotation Monday.
"Probably we know who the four guys are, but putting them in the right order is going to be the next part of it," Maddon said.
David Price can be counted on to start the first game, though Maddon did not say that Monday. However, while the Rays still want to win the American League East, Maddon did say that if the Rays in fact clinch a playoff spot, Price will not start Sunday in Kansas City even if the division is undecided
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.