Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Jennings hurts ankle, day to day

CLEARWATER — CF Desmond Jennings' fast start to the spring could be on hold at least for a few days after he left Saturday's 15-7 win over the Phillies with what the team called "a mild sprain" of his left ankle.

Jennings hit second base "a little bit funny" on a third-inning sequence, and manager Joe Maddon said they "didn't want to take any chances" so they removed him the next inning.

Jennings is considered day to day, and Maddon said "he's going to be fine." Jennings, who wouldn't have been scheduled to play today anyway, wasn't available for comment. He is 6-for-15 (.400) with five walks and five steals.

"I really don't anticipate a whole long time; I would say a day or two would be about right," Maddon said. "The thing is, he's doing so well, he looks so good at the plate, I don't want him to miss too much time so he maintains that feel."

DH Luke Scott, out since last Sunday with left hamstring tightness, is set to return Monday. OF Sam Fuld, out the same time with right hamstring tightness, is due back at the end of this week.

GOOD JEFF: RHP Jeff Niemann, competing to keep a spot in the rotation, was relatively sharp over his 3⅔ innings, allowing four hits (including a Ryan Howard homer) and striking out three, including Howard and Chase Utley with men on base to end innings.

"It was good to kind of be put in those high-pressure situations, especially early on, and be able to get out of it," he said.

Maddon said Niemann had good movement, was throwing his curveball for strikes and looked comfortable: "You could see some awkward swings."

BAD JEREMY: RHP Jeremy Hellickson worked in relief and after a 10-pitch fifth struggled mightily in the sixth, allowing three runs on four hits in a 34-pitch inning. Hellickson, usually very reserved, was visibly angry when he came off the mound and not made available for comment.

"Just a little off, nothing was really sharp," Maddon said. "He was angry with himself. … I know he knows he could have made better pitches in those moments. It's early, but I think that is why he was upset with himself."

GAME DETAILS: The Rays improved to 11-4; they won only 10 last spring. … Sean Rodriguez made several good plays at first base, where he will be used at times this season. … The 15 runs were the Rays' most in a spring game since 2010. … Maddon noted they "showed a lot of aggressiveness" offensively. … Minor-league C Craig Albernaz, the ultimate organization man, caught the ninth, his first game action. "He works his butt off every day, it was good to get him out there," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: Dewayne Staats, Brian Anderson, Todd Kalas and Orestes Destrade will be working today for Sun Sports' first spring telecast. … With the Red Sox not taking batting practice in Port Charlotte, the Rays pushed back their report and workout time, a nice trade for the loss of an hour with the time change.

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