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Spring training digest: Longoria out of the lineup again, while Panik settles into new role

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Evan Longoria, the former Tampa Bay Rays player turned Giants’ newest third baseman, is expected to be out a few games due to left ankle/heel tightness.(Courtesy Keith Allison/Flickr)

Evan Longoria was out of the lineup for the the second day in a row on Saturday due to left ankle/heel tightness, per Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The San Francisco Giants new third baseman, who has appeared in just six of the club’s Cactus League contests, said the problem is not structural in nature but it will cost him at least a couple games.

“It just flared up out there during a workout,” Longoria explained.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman, Longoria said he’s previously dealt with plantar fasciitis in his left foot but doesn’t know if the issues are connected.

While the ankle/heel issue makes for an inauspicious introduction to the orange and black, Longoria, 32, was an iron man during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays, missing just 12 games over the last five seasons.

“It’s nothing to be nervous about .. when I feel ready, I’ll play.”

Joe Panik continues cementing his spot atop the lineup. The second baseman, who’s batted first 11 times in his Giants’ career, is the favorite to handle that job when the regular season arrives, according to Pavlovic.

The batting order is still a work in progress, but the top five could look like lefties Panik and Brandon Belt followed by the right-handed triumvirate of Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey and Longoria.

In 2017, Panik was third on the team in OBP (.347), behind only Posey and Belt.

“For me, hitting leadoff, I always think about keeping the same approach,” Panik said. “But the more and more I do it, I can definitely see myself in that role.”

Austin Jackson stands as Panik’s chief rival for the tone-setter gig — especially against left-handed pitching. For the Cleveland Indians in 2017, Jackson had a .352 average and 1.013 OPS in 122 such at bats.

Incumbent all good with Oakland A’s acquisition of Jonathan Lucroy. Bruce Maxwell, who prior to the addition of the two-time All-Star Lucroy, was slated to be the main man behind the plate, is onboard with the signing.

“It’s a great acquisition on our part,” Maxwell told John Shea of the Chronicle. “That dude’s got a lot of experience. He’s a solid catcher behind the plate. He hits pretty well. He’s a very well-rounded individual.

Per the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, the A’s will be paying Lucroy $6.5 million on a one year deal.

Those terms makes Lucroy the second-highest member of the 2018 squad behind Khris Davis, who’ll net $10.5 million.

Lucroy hit .265 with a .716 OPS and six home runs in 123 games last year while splitting the season with Texas Rangers and the Colorado Rockies.

The left-handed hitting Maxwell who be an ideal complement to the right-handed Lucroy. Such an arrangement would leave Josh Phegley as the odd man out. Maxwell compared the situation to studying under another former All-Star, Stephen Vogt.

“I learned a lot from Vogt, who’s very open,” Maxwell said. “I know Lucroy also is a very open person … I look forward to seeing him in the green and gold and working with him.”

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