EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 22, 2012

Q and A: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay star

Christopher Smith

Red Sox fans got a glimpse at just how talented Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria is during the 2008 ALCS when he smashed four home runs, three doubles and drove in eight runs in seven games against Boston while helping the Rays advance to the World Series.

Longoria won the 2008 Rookie of the Year award, a 2009 Silver Slugger award and Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2010.

But he is so much more than just a star baseball player. He also is a drummer, a chef, a car collector and more. Longoria went one-on-one with The Eagle-Tribune last week to talk about baseball and his off-the-field hobbies.

E-T: I hear you're a drummer and you have a kit at Tropicana Field.

Longoria: I play every day. It's more of a stress relief for me. I go in there either early or after batting practice and just beat on them and have some fun.

E-T: Do you consider yourself a good drummer?

Longoria: I'm not that good. I've been playing going on three years now. I'm not 100-percent dedicated to it. Obviously, a lot of my playing is during baseball season. So I'm only playing 20, 30 minutes a day.

E-T: Who got you into the drums?

Longoria: (Former teammate) Gregg Zaun. He brought a kit that he had and just got me into playing. I would get to the field an hour earlier than I normally would and just go play his kit. After that, I got my own kit and just kept playing.

E-T: What kind of kit did you buy?

Longoria: I have a Crush Drums kit. I have like three of them.

E-T: What's your type of music and what is the best concert you've even been to?

Longoria: I love all kinds of rock. Probably, my two favorite concerts I've ever been to — I just went to the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Tampa, which was really good, and Kid Rock on New Year's like three years ago in Vegas. That was probably the best show I've been to.

E-T: If you weren't a baseball player, what would you be doing?

Longoria: I have so many other passions besides baseball. I love animals. I love dogs. I really enjoy the drums. And I love to cook. So it would be a toss-up between those three.

E-T: What do you cook?

Longoria: If we've got steaks, I'll do that, or I'll try to make something up. I'm a little more of a continental cuisine type — American style food.

E-T: I have heard that you've owned some old cars.

Longoria: I love old cars. I love the way they look. I'm not an avid collector. I couldn't tell you what kind of engine the car had. I don't know specifics. But I like the way they look. I'm an enthusiast of everything vintage. I love the '60s and '70s. Like if I had my choice for home decor it'd be a vintage, retro look.

E-T: If you could talk hitting with any player in the majors, who would it be?

Longoria: I'm looking forward to talking to Albert Pujols. We played him in interleague play in 2008, but I was a rookie player then, and I didn't get a chance to talk to him a whole lot. And then obviously him being in the National League this whole time, I didn't get a chance.

E-T: Besides Pujols, who is the best hitter in baseball? Longoria: I think Miguel Cabrera has got to be one of the best hitters in the league. Albert is a really, really good hitter also. I think between those two guys, they are probably the most talented and have the ability to do everything with the bat. They can hit for average. They can hit for power. And they are just really, really smart hitters.

E-T: How do you prepare for some of these Red Sox pitchers, such as Jon Lester and Josh Beckett?

Longoria: For me, now being in my fifth year, Lester and Beckett, those guys I've seen. I have 40, 50 at-bats off of them. So I have a pretty good idea of what they're going to do to me. It's usually dictated on past successes and failures that they've had against me. And it's a constant game of adjustments. I mean, Josh pitched (on Opening Day at Fenway) different than I've ever seen him pitch. He threw a lot more cutters and changeups to me, breaking balls. Just a different style of pitching than he ever has. And a lot of it has a lot to do with pitchers reinventing themselves every year.

But for a guy who I've never seen like (Felix) Doubront, I watch a lot of video. I try to watch what he's done to guys comparable to me on other teams.

E-T: Who would you rather face in a big game, Roy Halladay or Justin Verlander?

Longoria: I'd rather face Halladay only off the pure basis that Halladay can't throw 98 (mph) anymore. He's around 91 to 93. His stuff is still obviously lights-out stuff. But when Verlander decides to throw 100, that's a big factor. Usually by the fifth or sixth inning, he's up around 96, 97. So that's what makes him so tough.

E-T: What's your favorite sport to watch other than baseball?

Longoria: I love watching the (Tampa Bay) Lightning.

E-T: Have you ever hung out with any of the Lightning players?

Longoria: Yeah, a few of them are good friends of mine.

E-T: Hockey players are considered by the media to be the friendliest athletes.

Longoria: Yeah, that's what I've heard. Of all the sports guys that I've hung out with, they are definitely, in my opinion, the most down-to-earth guys. They are the guys who are easiest to talk to about whatever. They're cool guys. Teddy Purcell is probably one of my best friends on the team. And there are a couple of guys, Nate Thompson and (Steven) Stamkos who I've hung out with just a couple of times. Ryan Malone also.

E-T: How was someone with your ability not offered a Division 1 scholarship out of high school?

Longoria: I don't know, man. I've been asked that question a thousand of times. There's so many baseball players out there. There's so many kids wanting to be in our shoes right now. It really speaks to the validation that hard work pays off. It validates that phrase. I don't know how it would have worked out for me had I not decided to go to junior college and continue to play baseball. Obviously, I love playing baseball. It's my life. But I continued to play baseball because me and my buddy Adam decided that we still wanted to play ball together and that we'd go to junior college and just have a blast and get our education and just continue to play baseball. I probably would have never played again had we not made that decision.

E-T: I once heard Ray Allen hasn't eaten a hamburger in like 10 or 20 years or something like that. Are you like that?

Longoria: I ate one last night!

E-T: Do you try to eat healthy most of the time?

Longoria: During the season, for us, it's so tough. For us, I know I am exhausted. When I get up in the morning, I don't want to cook myself breakfast. I'm tired. And when I go home at night after games, I'm just dead tired. We eat here. We have a team nutritionist. So they are not feeding us just greasy, oily foods every day. We're getting decent foods. I eat most of my meals here.