ST. PETERSBURG -- Evan Longoria, who has been out with a strained left oblique, was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Monday. Just one problem: He's not physically able to do so just yet.
"It's at the point where I'm itching to do more," Longoria said.
Longoria said he will "go with dry swings" on Tuesday, which translates to swinging a bat, but not at pitches. After that, he'll wait a day to see how he feels, and he said, "If it feels OK, move on to the next day."
The Rays' All-Star third baseman said he will travel with the team on the upcoming road trip that begins Friday in Toronto.
"The first road trip, I wasn't close to any baseball activity," Longoria said. "So this one, hopefully I'll be hitting off the tee, doing flips, and possibly by the end of the Toronto series, hitting on the field."
Longoria said when the team heads to Minnesota, he'll likely join Double-A Montgomery or Triple-A Durham to get some games under his belt. He speculated he'll be back with the Rays and playing by April 29.
Damon unavailable Monday with bruised finger
ST. PETERSBURG -- Johnny Damon had to leave Sunday's game after the fourth inning because of a bruise on the tip of his left ring finger.
The Rays' outfielder/designated hitter, who was named American League co-Player of the Week on Monday, still had a splint on his finger on Monday. He was not in the lineup and not available to come off the bench.
Despite the setback, Damon remained optimistic about his return.
"Hopefully I can start gripping the bat in the next day or two," said Damon, explaining that the swelling is preventing him from holding the bat the way he needs to. "As soon as I can grip a bat, I'll be back in there."
Damon said he understands his value to the team, so he is doing everything he can to expedite his return.
"I'm hoping to be back in there before the road trip," Damon said.
Damon, as well as Rays manager Joe Maddon, felt as though he would be available for pinch-running duties as early as Tuesday night's game.
Howell to throw live batting practice on Tuesday
ST. PETERSBURG -- J.P. Howell is scheduled to throw a live batting practice on Tuesday, which should be the last hoop for him to jump through before pitching in real games.
The Rays' left-hander, who is coming back from left shoulder surgery, will throw approximately 30 pitches on Tuesday.
"Then that's a wrap," Howell said.
Maddon said he talked to head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and pitching coach Jim Hickey about the plan for Howell.
"He's getting real close to getting out there playing," Maddon said. "He looked good [on Saturday]. I spoke to him again afterwards. I said, 'I know you feel great, but take your time with this, like we've been doing all along. Want to make sure that when you're well, that you stay well,' that kind of stuff. He understands."
B.J. Upton did not start Monday night. Maddon thought his center fielder had heavy legs, so he wanted to get him off the turf for a night. Dan Johnson, who was hit by a pitch on Sunday, also did not start Monday, but according to Maddon he could have if needed. Durham left-hander Alex Torres was named International League Pitcher of the Week. In two starts, he went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. He allowed only five hits, two walks and a hit batter while striking out 17. Torres, 23, is the No. 6 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America. Josh Arhart has been hired as a part-time coach for Princeton of the Rookie Appalachian League. He will be assisting 2011 Princeton hitting coach Wuarnner Rincones with hitting instruction as well as working with the team's catchers. Arhart, 31, was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Rays in June 2002. He played six seasons in the organization's farm system, reaching as high as Double-A Montgomery in 2007.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.