Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Jennings has rare double-play feat

ST. PETERSBURG — Desmond Jennings figured his unassisted double play in Saturday's third inning was something that doesn't happen often.

But neither the centerfielder nor the rest of the Rays realized how rare it was.

"I thought it might have been the first one ever in the world," manager Joe Maddon said.

Though it wasn't a world first, Jennings became the first Rays outfielder to complete the feat, and the first big-league centerfielder in more than 20 years to do it in this fashion.

With one out and Athletics 2B Eric Sogard on first base, Jennings raced in to catch a fly ball by CF Coco Crisp. Jennings then looked up and saw Sogard had already run to third, thinking the ball was going to drop in.

So Jennings jogged over and tagged first base on his way to the dugout for the final out.

"I was already heading in that direction," Jennings said, smiling. "So why not?"

The last centerfielder to complete an unassisted double play by catching a fly ball and physically recording the putout at first base was the Pirates' Andy Van Slyke on July 7, 1992, against the Astros, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

LF Matt Joyce said he was a bit confused by Jennings' casual pace.

"I thought it was interesting," Joyce said. "I was wondering what (Jennings) was doing. I'm like, 'I don't think there's three outs on that one.' But that was cool; he's easygoing that way."

HOMER HAPPY: 3B Evan Longoria has four home runs in his past six games after his first 11 hits of the season were singles. Maddon sees one main difference: "He's not missing his pitch."

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTERS: Triple-A Durham SS Hak-Ju Lee, the Rays' top infield prospect, tore ligaments in his left knee in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Norfolk. Lee, who was batting .422, is likely out for the season. … OF prospect Wil Myers, recently sidelined by a bruised right foot, hit his first homer for Durham — against former Rays LHP Mark Hendrickson — in the nightcap.

STILL LOOKING: RHP Roberto Hernandez enters tonight's fourth start with the Rays still looking for his first win. Maddon has liked what he has seen from Hernandez overall but said the key for the veteran is getting his trademark sinker to stay down. "The ball is in the air a little bit too much," Maddon said. "If he gets the ball on the ground more consistently, I think you'll see him pitch deeper into the games with less runs."

LOCAL FLAVOR: A's bullpen coach Darren Bush, 39, was born and raised in Dunedin and lived there during the offseason until a couple of years ago, when he moved to Venice.

But it wasn't until this weekend's series against the Rays that Bush set foot in Tropicana Field. Bush, who played three years of independent ball and seven seasons in the minors (1996-2002), getting as high as Triple A, said he was always off playing or coaching. But Bush, in his first season on the A's big-league staff, was excited his family got to be here for his first trip to the Trop. A's manager Bob Melvin said Bush, a minor-league manager the past six seasons, has a future as a big-league skipper. "I'm having a lot of fun," Bush said. "I've still got a lot to learn."

GREAT SCOTT: Maddon said the Rays will likely be able to determine whether DH Luke Scott (right calf strain) is ready to start rehabilitation after he runs the bases again today.

MISCELLANY: The Rays on Saturday won their first 1-0 game since April 16, 2012, at Boston. In between, they had lost five straight 1-0 games. … The Rays have homered in six straight games. … OF Sam Fuld and RHP Brandon Gomes will sign autographs along the rightfield line from 12:15-12:45 p.m. today.

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