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Tampa Bay Rays' Desmond Jennings may miss time with sore left knee

The Rays think Desmond Jennings hurt his left knee on this slide in the first inning, when he scored on a sacrifice fly.

DIRK SHADD | Times

The Rays think Desmond Jennings hurt his left knee on this slide in the first inning, when he scored on a sacrifice fly.

ST. PETERSBURG — LF Desmond Jennings' status for Tuesday's game against the Yankees is in question after he left Sunday's 9-5 loss to Oakland after the second inning with left knee soreness.

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't sure what the extent of Jennings' injury was or how long he would be out, saying he'd know more today. He believed the injury occurred on Jennings' first-inning head-first slide into home, when the speedy leadoff man scored on a sacrifice fly.

Jennings grounded out to short in the second inning, nearly beating out the throw by Cliff Pennington. He was replaced by Elliot Johnson in the top of the third, with INF Will Rhymes taking Johnson's spot at second.

Jennings has been a catalyst for the Rays, entering Sunday tied for the AL lead in steals. Maddon said if Jennings is not available Tuesday, "more than likely" Matt Joyce would be in leftfield, with B.J. Upton in center and Ben Zobrist in right.

SWEET SWINGING: Joyce had three hits off left-handed pitchers Sunday, nearly as many as in his first 26 games (4-for-23).

Maddon said he was most impressed with Joyce's opposite-field single off LHP Brian Fuentes in the eighth.

"That really showed me that he's coming along," Maddon said. "Where he drives the ball to the left side of the field against a very good left-handed pitcher."

Joyce said he was excited for the opportunity to start against a lefty, knowing Maddon said he would pick and choose which ones to match him against.

"The more I see them, the more comfortable I'm going to get," Joyce said. "I never really had a problem before, so it's not something I'm going to go crazy over. It's just a comfortability factor. When you get more comfortable against lefties, you hit them better."

LOOKING UP: Upton had another good day at the plate, with three walks and a solo homer. Upton had one walk in his previous 13 games this season (51 plate appearances). It was his first three-walk game since May 29.

"B.J. has been working really good at-bats," Maddon said. "I really liked how his bat head is getting out front; the extension on his swing has been outstanding. He looks good right now; he looks very good. It's not as a surprise for him to be able to walk, based on the kind of swing that I'm seeing."

LEANING LEFT: LHP Cesar Ramos was watching the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight card at around 11 p.m. Saturday when he got the call he was coming back to the big leagues.

"I guess it was a good interruption," Ramos said, smiling.

With the Rays bullpen taxed — it threw 81/3 innings Saturday — Ramos was picked to give them a fresh arm. RHP Brandon Gomes was sent down after the 12-inning loss to the A's. Ramos hadn't pitched since Thursday, giving him an advantage over the other candidates, RHPs Alex Cobb and Dane De La Rosa, who pitched Friday.

But Ramos was also performing well for the Bulls, posting a team-best 1.69 ERA in 12 appearances. He threw a 1-2-3 ninth for the Rays on Sunday in his season debut.

"I was just going down there and attacking the hitters. That was my whole mind-set, attack, attack, attack," Ramos said. "It's been a pretty good start down there, so hopefully we can keep it up."

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain) played catch Saturday for the first time since his injury, saying he was encouraged with how he felt after 20 throws from 60 feet. "I felt good," he said. "I was out in front of everything, didn't feel restricted, didn't feel anything in my elbow. It was a good step."

C Jose Lobaton (shoulder soreness) will DH or play catcher this week for extended spring in Port Charlotte.

MINOR MATTERS: DH Hideki Matsui, recently signed to a minor-league deal, will play his first extended spring game for the Rays at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Port Charlotte.

Tampa Bay Rays' Desmond Jennings may miss time with sore left knee 05/06/12 [Last modified: Sunday, May 6, 2012 9:29pm]
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