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Longoria returns from oblique injury

Tampa Bay Rays All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria was actviated been Tuesday from the 15-day disabled list.

Longoria had been sidelined since April 3 with a strained left oblique. He said his return is like another opening day.

"It feels like I've been gone so long," he said. "I'm just happy to be back, and back in the lineup."

Longoria had four hits, including three homers, in 15 at-bats during a four-game minor league rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery.

"I think this is one of those things, again I've never experienced this so I don't know how it will react, but I've played and felt pretty much the same coming into the ballpark every day as I did the day before," Longoria said. "If all stays the same, I hope to go everyday."

To make room for Longoria, the Rays designated infielder Felipe Lopez for assignment.

Manager Joe Maddon said the decision on Lopez had nothing to do with the infielder's failure to run out a grounder during an April 22 game with the Blue Jays and then getting pulled from the contest.

Maddon said the team would like to have Lopez stay in the organization and play at Triple-A Durham.

Tampa Bay also recalled reliever Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. He takes the spot of right-hander Alex Cobb, who was optioned to the International League club after making a spot start on Sunday.

Reliever J.P. Howell, coming back from left shoulder surgery, is set to join Triple-A Durham for his final five scheduled minor league rehab appearances. The left-hander could be ready to return around May 20.

"It's not far away," Howell said. "It's like the day before Christmas. It's slowing down for me."

Howell didn't pitch in 2010 due to the injury that required surgery last May 19.