Rays' Jennings pulled with hamstring tightness

Leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings, in the midst of a strong series, heads to the clubhouse after leaving in the sixth inning with hamstring tightness.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Leadoff hitter Desmond Jennings, in the midst of a strong series, heads to the clubhouse after leaving in the sixth inning with hamstring tightness.

ST. PETERSBURG — CF Desmond Jennings left Sunday's game in the sixth inning with tightness in his left hamstring and had a precautionary MRI exam.

The Rays hope it's not serious. "I don't think so, but honest to God, I don't know," manager Joe Maddon said.

Maddon said they knew something was up when Jennings, who led off the sixth with a bunt single, didn't attempt to steal on any of the next five pitches from Orioles RHP Scott Feldman, who was "really slow to the plate."

"That was a huge tipoff," Maddon said.

Maddon and athletic trainer Paul Harker checked on Jennings, who was removed and replaced by pinch-runner Sam Fuld. The move paid off as Fuld was running and advanced to third on the wild pitch Feldman threw for ball four to 2B Ben Zobrist. Fuld scored on a sacrifice fly.

Jennings was having a huge series, matching his career best with three straight multi-hit games, scoring the winning run Friday and knocking in four Saturday.

"Desmond has been playing well … everything has been rolling for him," Maddon said. "Let's just hope it's very minor."

BOUNCE BACK: 3B Evan Longoria was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms, but he entered the game in the eighth inning and said he expects to start today. Kelly Johnson started in Longoria's place at third and played well, other than an error in the fifth inning. Maddon said Longoria was sick before the game but after resting in the clubhouse told him around the fifth inning he was feeling better.

WEB GEMS: The Rays continued to play sparkling defense. In the first, SS Yunel Escobar barehanded Chris Davis’ grounder, which had bounced off the hand of LHP Enny Romero, and started an unconventional 1-6-3 double play. Zobrist, who Maddon said is playing Gold Glove-caliber second base, snagged a sinking popup by Brian Roberts to start the fifth. But the best might have been two batters later, when RF Wil Myers made a running catch a couple of steps from the wall on a Michael Morse fly ball. "Tremendous play," Maddon said. Myers said he got a good read right off the bat. "It was probably the best catch I've ever made," he said.

TROP TALK: Maddon said the Rays would have had a shutout if not for the ceiling, as the Orioles scored their only run in the ninth on Matt Wieters’ RBI double that bounced off the B-ring catwalk and caromed in play into shallow rightfield. "I was under it, had it the whole way and that happened," Myers said. "Oh well."

QUICK STINT: RHP J.D. Martin was in Louisiana on Saturday with his wife's family, ready to start his offseason, when he got called up by the Rays.

He made the three-hour drive to Houston and flew to Tampa to be available for long relief. But after not appearing in the Rays' 3-1 win, Martin will be designated for assignment today, likely to make room on the 40-man roster for RH reliever Jesse Crain (shoulder), who is expected to be activated from the disabled list.

Martin, 30, set a franchise record and led all minor-league pitchers with 16 wins at Triple-A Durham, but he hasn't appeared in a big-league game since 2010 with Washington. The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or put Martin on waivers.

MISCELLANY: RHP Fernando Rodney has converted his past six save opportunities. … C Jose Lobaton hadn't thrown out an attempted base-stealer in 22 attempts until he got CF Adam Jones at second in the third. … 1B James Loney could get a day off today against LHP Wei-Yin Chen, with Sean Rodriguez likely to fill in.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Rays' Jennings pulled with hamstring tightness 09/22/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 22, 2013 10:16pm]

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