Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays' Desmond Jennings to wear knee brace, should return to lineup soon

NEW YORK — LF Desmond Jennings won't be playing as fluidly or as quickly as he did before, but the Rays and Jennings are confident he will be playing again in a few days with a brace on his sprained left knee.

Jennings was adamant that the injury, which forced him from Sunday's game and, much to his own consternation, into an MRI machine Monday, would not lead to a stay on the disabled list. "I don't think it's that bad," he said.

He did some activity, including running on a treadmill, with the brace on Tuesday and said he could be ready to go tonight, though that would be less likely if the grounds are again wet.

"It feels better," Jennings said. "It feels better than it did the first day. I feel like every day it's gotten better."

Manager Joe Maddon said though Jennings was still sore, head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield was "encouraged by what he's seeing."

Jennings felt some discomfort after sliding across the plate in the first inning Sunday, and when it didn't go away he knew something was amiss. There was some relief when the MRI exam didn't show anything major, such as a torn ligament, and only a sprain, similar to a mildly sprained ankle.

"I was hoping it didn't come back with nothing, but if it's anything this is probably the best thing that could have happened," Jennings said. "It's not a good feeling either way, but you can live with this."

Jennings is expected to wear the brace for several weeks.

GUYER in, KEPPINGER OUT, FOR NOW: OF Brandon Guyer was called up form Triple-A Durham and will join the Rays for tonight's game. Guyer will take the place of INF Jeff Keppinger, who was placed on the restricted list after Tuesday's game for what the Rays only said was "a personal matter.''

The announcement was not made until after the clubhouse was closed and the players had left. The Rays said they expect Keppinger's absence to be short-term, possibly only for one day.

Guyer, after a slow start, was hitting .294 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 22 games, returning Friday after being on the DL with a sprained left ankle. He has also been in the news because his car was driven by minor-league RHP Matt Bush in a March 22 DUI hit-and-run accident, and the family of the victim sued each for $5 million. Guyer has not commented on the matter.

UPTON UPDATE: Maddon had "an afternoon epiphany" and shuffled the lineup, moving 1B Carlos Peña up to second and CF B.J. Upton down to third. Maddon made the move to separate Peña from their other two power-hitting lefties, Joyce and DH Luke Scott, who hit his team-high seventh homer.

But it also was a nod to Upton's improved approach, which produced a .387 average over his previous eight games going into Tuesday. "I'd say the primary difference is a better, more aggressive swing," Maddon said.

MINOR MATTERS: DH/OF Hideki Matsui is set to make his Rays debut today in a 1 p.m. extended spring training game on a back field at the Port Charlotte complex, with free admission. … C Jose Lobaton, on the DL with a sore shoulder since April 13, was 2-for-5 as the DH in an extended spring game on Monday and caught three innings in a simulated game Tuesday. … Double-A Montgomery OF Kyeong Kang was named Southern League player of the week.

MISCELLANY: RHP James Shields, LHP David Price and SS Sean Rodriguez will visit MLB's FanCave in lower Manhattan today. … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg was on hand. … ESPN, which has the Rays on tonight, also will show next Wednesday's game vs. Boston.

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