ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America released its annual award winners Friday.
Evan Longoria, the Rays' leader in home runs and RBIs, was named most valuable player. It is the first time in his six-year career that he has taken home the honor.
"It's ironic for me," Longoria said. "In the six years I've been here, this has been my most inconsistent. This year has been a little personally disappointing for myself, but I guess it speaks to the fact that I've been healthy and the impact that has on the rest of the team."
If Longoria plays in every game to finish the season, it would mark a career high of 158 games. He played in just 74 games last season.
"When I've been on the DL, the toughest thing is not being able to go out there every day," Longoria said. "There are a lot of guys that are deserving of this award. We've had enormous contributions from so many guys and it really makes it special. I'm honored."
The outstanding rookie award was given to outfielder Wil Myers, who many feel could win the American League Rookie of the Year Award as he leads AL rookies in home runs and RBIs.
The Paul C. Smith Champion Award, named in honor of the late MLB.com writer and presented to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field, went to utility man Ben Zobrist.
"It's not something you set out to win at the beginning of the year, but at the same time, that's something you hope you can live up to," Zobrist said. "Being considered one of the good guys is something you want to do your best to represent well."
After late scratch, Jennings scores winning run
ST. PETERSBURG -- Center fielder Desmond Jennings was scratched from the Rays' lineup prior to Friday night's 5-4 win against the Orioles because of neck stiffness.
Jennings, who was slated to hit second, was replaced by Sam Fuld, who batted seventh. He loosened up in time to enter as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. Jennings, who finished 2-for-4, hit a double in the 18th, then scored the winning run on David DeJesus' walk-off single.
"That was fun, man," Jennings said. "To be on the winning side of a game like that is awesome. For two teams to go out and play as hard as we did for two hours, that's probably the best win of the year for us."
Beckham collects first big league hit in first at-bat
ST. PETERSBURG -- There was one shining moment in an otherwise ugly loss Thursday for the Rays when Tim Beckham collected his first Major League at-bat and his first hit in the eighth inning.
Beckham -- the No. 1 overall selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft -- pinch-hit for Matt Joyce and grounded a single through the right side of the infield off Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers.
"It would have been nice to get the win, but on the bright side, yeah, it is nice to get that first one out of the way," Beckham said. "There are many more to come."
As promised, manager Joe Maddon let the 23-year-old infielder get his feet wet in a situation that meant little to the outcome of the game.
Beckham was surprised to feel few nerves his first time in the batter's box.
"I knew a fastball pitcher was coming in and that's one of the strong points in my hitting approach, driving fastballs," he said. "I got down two strikes, I battled and found a hole."
He also received a tip from Evan Longoria, who watched from the on-deck circle.
"The advice he gave me was very helpful," Beckham said. "He told me Scheppers has a hard fastball and when he gets to two strikes, he likes to quick pitch. He did, and I got a pitch to put in play. It found a hole."
As for the ball, Beckham plans to hang on to it. He just isn't sure where it's headed.
"I'm definitely going to put it up somewhere once I get a house and all that stuff," he said.
• The Rays officially recalled right-hander Jake Odorizzi on Friday, although he was in the clubhouse Thursday. Odorizzi spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Durham but also made four starts for the Rays.
• No decision has been made on whether the Rays will activate right-handed reliever Jesse Crain. Crain threw one inning in an instructional league game Thursday.
• ESPN The Magazine released its annual "Ultimate Standings" on Friday and the Rays were the highest-ranked franchise in Florida.
Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.