Longoria's hot-streak mantra: 'Drive guys in'

Longoria's hot-streak mantra: 'Drive guys in'

DENVER -- Right as trade rumors heat up around much of the Rays' roster, Evan Longoria carries the hottest bat for Tampa Bay.

Longoria is hitting a red-hot .308/.357/.885 since the All-Star break with three home runs. At 22 homers, he has already matched his home run total for the past two seasons.

Longoria's power has been especially present in Denver, where he had two doubles in the Rays' 11-3 series-finale win, and two triples and a home run in the first two games. That helped raise his slugging percentage to .552, which is a career high.

Longoria's RBI double

"I'm just trying to go out and have a career year," Longoria said. "It's been going well. I never really think about my power totals, whether it's early or late in the season. I usually try to drive guys in. That's really all I think about.

"Hitting home runs is cool, and everybody takes notice of it, but for me personally, it's not something I look at and say 'I've got to get to this number.'"

Longoria's 19 first-half home runs are a career high, and his .289 first-half average is the second best of his career. One of the bigger reasons for his success has been sustained health, especially after being dinged up last season with a left wrist injury.

"When you're a player of that caliber, those things can affect you," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But we've seen a very healthy player who has kind of led us through some difficult times here. He's been the one constant in our lineup, and we're just thankful for what he's provided for us.

Longoria's hot streak goes back to May 8, and he's hitting .319/.371/.606 during that stretch. He says he feels more comfortable at the plate than ever, and the early-season success gives him more confidence going forward.

"He's established himself," Cash said. "You can say he's growing as a hitter, and with the amount of at-bats, you get smarter as you go, and he's already a smart hitter to begin with. He has a very good idea of what pitchers are trying to do to him and what he's wanting to do. This year, he's been very successful with those approaches."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.