Evan Longoria had quite the emphatic spring debut Saturday, ripping a three-run double in his second at-bat of the spring in the Giants' 8-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale Stadium.
Longoria served as the designated hitter and batted fifth, finishing the day 1-for-2 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. While it took him some time to see game action, the former Silver Slugger was in good spirits after the game.
"My swing feels good in the cage," Longoria said in a video conference to reporters. "It's nice to have it translate into a game situation."
If it seems the Giants are slow-playing the third baseman this spring, it's because they are. Longoria revealed to reporters he's dealing with the same plantar fasciitis issue that affected him last season, although he didn't sound overly concerned about the issue.
"My foot has been bothering me, so that's why we've been holding off," Longoria said. "The same thing I dealt with last year, a little plantar fasciitis, a little nerve pain. Hopefully we've got it taken care of."
Longoria, a three-time MLB All-Star and three-time Gold Glove award winner, isn't slated to see time at third base any time soon, and said he'll continue getting at-bats in game situations while keeping up his defensive work on the side.
"We're just kind of easing into it," he added. "It's not a big deal. It's just something we're going to have to deal with."
"I don't see it as a rush to get him into games at third base," manager Gabe Kapler said. "What we really want to do is get his timing and rhythm down.
"We were on the backfields yesterday, he was taking ground balls at third," he added. "Looks fine out there, there isn't any rush. We'll take it nice and slow and when we feel he is fully ready to play defense and offense, we'll stick him in there."
Longoria is entering his fourth year with the Giants and figures to be the main option at third base, but the offseason acquisition of utility infielder Tommy La Stella could alleviate most of the pressure off the 35-year-old. San Francisco could even implement a third platoon option in Jason Vosler, if the 27-year-old continues to impress in Cactus League action.
For now, Longoria's spring appearances will remain defined as the team's DH. That's fine with him, as he echoed Kapler's sentiments, saying he is looking to lock down his rhythm and timing while gaining more reps.
"I still feel like I have a long way to go," Longoria said. "We've got a lot of AB's left in the spring, so hopefully over the course of the spring I'll feel locked in when I need to be, which is April 1 or right around there."
Longoria's numbers between the 2019 and 2020 season are eerily similar, and if he can mirror that consistency in 2021, San Francisco should be in good form. Longoria hit .254/.297/.425 in 53 games last year, and showed he can still hit for power when needed by roping 10 doubles and seven homers.
The Giants' revamped lineup is expected to be the best in recent memory, and both Longoria and the team believe he can keep up his expected production heading into the new season. Maintaining reps in game situations this spring is of utmost importance for that to be the case.