ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Evan Longoria was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks in January to bring veteran leadership to a young clubhouse. That team has brought him back to his first World Series since he was a rookie.
“I just assumed that I’d have an opportunity to get back at some point. ... I never thought it would be 15 years later,” Longoria said. “Being able to do it again this many years into my career, I definitely have a different appreciation and respect for the opportunity."
With Longoria in the starting lineup for Game 1 on Friday night in Texas against the Rangers, the 38-year-old third baseman becomes the first position player in MLB history to appear in a World Series 15 years after first playing in the Fall Classic. Three pitchers have accomplished the feat; Dennis Martinez was the last one to do it with Cleveland in 1995.
After signing a one-year deal and playing in only 74 games while hitting .223 with 11 homers during the regular season, Longoria has been in the starting lineup for the Diamondbacks in every game this postseason.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo recognizes the full circle for Longoria, who is able to share his experiences with players going through the playoffs for the first time.
“It’s happened a lot in the postseason about what to expect at every turn," Lovullo said “And he’s the guy that guys will turn to just to have a conversation about how to relax and how to expect certain things.”
Then again, Longoria has been available like that all season. Lovullo remembers one of the first conversations they had at the start of spring training, when the manager gave him free rein to do and say whatever he needed to in the clubhouse and on the field.
“Conversations you can have when I’m not there are way more powerful than anything any other teammate or any other coach could have because of your reputation,” Lovullo recalled telling Longoria. "And I encouraged him also to remember he’s a good baseball player. I don’t want him to be a Crash Davis who will be teaching lessons every single day.”
In 2008, when the Tampa Bay Rays won the AL pennant, Longoria was the last big leaguer to be an All-Star, play in the World Series and be Rookie of the Year (the unanimous AL pick) in his first season.
The next likely will be Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll, the overwhelming favorite for NL Rookie of the Year when that award is announced next month.
“He's had probably the biggest impact on me out of anyone this year: coach or player. He's been incredible," Carroll said of Longoria. “I just I can’t say enough for what he’s done for me.”
Carroll, who got a $111 million, eight-year contract even before his first full season, said their relationship developed naturally over time.
“Him maybe feeling a little bit of an obligation, having been in a similar position to me, and taking off from there,” Carroll said. “I think it is just what he shared with me in terms of on the field and handling everything, and then away from the field as well. That’s really been invaluable advice.”
There is also the lesson for all the Diamondbacks players to not take for granted where they are right now, and appreciate the moments with a special team.
Longoria spent his first 10 big league seasons and was an All-Star the first three with the Rays, who after going to that World Series when he was 23 never made it past the AL Division Series again while he was there. They got beat in that round in 2010 and 2011 by the Rangers, and in 2013 by Boston. During his five seasons with San Francisco from 2018-22, the Giants lost in the NLDS after a 107-win regular season two years ago.
“Even in going to the postseason ... it doesn’t feel the same, obviously, as coming all the way and having a chance to play in the World Series,” Longoria said.
Now he finally gets to have that Fall Classic feeling again.
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