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Evan Longoria returns, Matt Joyce sits for Rays

Jun 10, 2011, 6:22 PM EST

Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria AP

The good news is that the Rays have Evan Longoria back tonight after the All-Star third baseman missed three games with strep throat.

The bad is that the team’s best hitter this year, Matt Joyce, is absent with what the Rays are calling “post-injection soreness” in his left shoulder.

Joyce received his second cortisone shot of the year due to lingering soreness in the shoulder and is dealing with pain around the injection area.  He’s expected to be available to pinch-hit tonight, and the Rays are optimistic that he’ll be back in the lineup on Saturday.

Joyce is second in the AL in batting average this year. Having falled into a bit of a slump, he’s recently tumbled from second to fourth in OPS, with Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz now in the place and show positions behind Jose Bautista.  Joyce is hitting .338/.397/.590 with 10 homers and 34 RBI in 195 at-bats.

Since Joyce probably isn’t going to hit .340 all year, it’d help the Rays a lot if Longoria could step it up.  He’s hitting .252/.360/.435 with just 13 RBI in 115 at-bats.  He finished with an OPS in the .870-.890 range in each of his first three big-league seasons, but he’s at .795 right now.

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