Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays drop struggling Desmond Jennings from first to seventh in lineup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The good news, at least, is that LF Desmond Jennings said his previously sprained left knee isn't the problem, in fact feeling good enough that he has shed the brace he'd worn since his June 5 return.

But Jennings has been struggling, hitting .177 in his first 20 games back, so much so that manager Joe Maddon on Tuesday dropped him from his usual leadoff spot to seventh.

"He's just been off of his game," Maddon said. "I wanted to take a little pressure off of him. We did the same thing, remember, for one game in the playoffs (last year) and then he came back really well. … Just go out there and play. He's trying so hard, he can't try any harder than he is. And he still can be very productive for us from the seven hole. That's all it is — give him a different look and just see if he can get back to his normal self."

Jennings, in his first full season in the majors, said the best solution is to hit his way out of it, that sitting out won't accomplish anything. He does acknowledge that he is becoming impatient and swinging earlier in the count than usual.

"There's nothing wrong, I'm just not hitting,'' he said. "I do know I feel like I've been missing pitches I should hit. I'm struggling right now, so I'm trying to not get behind as much and I'm going up there and swinging early. … I feel like I've been getting pitched pretty good, too."

MORE STRUGGLES: With DH Luke Scott set to return as soon as Thursday, Hideki Matsui's playing time is likely to be cut dramatically. He hasn't made much a case for himself, hitting .132 (5-for-38) over his past 10 games and .164 overall.

But Maddon remains confident: "I'm not worried about him. He's going to hit his stride. He just all of a sudden is going to just turn it out and he's going to get really hot."

IMPRESSIVE ARCH: Rookie RHP Chris Archer made a good first impression in his two starts. "I think more than anything he proved to himself that he can pitch in the big leagues,'' Maddon said. "He did a great job.''

MEDICAL MATTERS: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder fatigue) felt good playing catch in the follow-up to his 60-pitch Monday bullpen session, and said he is set to return to the rotation, targeting Saturday. Maddon said that's not official yet as there is also an option to start Alex Cobb on Saturday on his normal day and push Hellickson to Sunday.

Scott (back stiffness) went 1-for-5 for Triple-A Durham in his second rehab game, with a decision forthcoming if he will play again for the Bulls tonight. Either way, he could rejoin the Rays as soon as Thursday.

RHP Kyle Farnsworth (right elbow) finally got on the mound by going to Durham after being rained out two straight days in Florida with Class A Charlotte. He started and worked one inning for the Bulls on Tuesday, striking out two and allowing a double. He is to start again tonight for Durham and could be activated Saturday.

Maddon said there was "zero" news on 3B Evan Longoria, who has been idled since a June 18 setback in his recovery from a partially torn left hamstring.

MISCELLANY: RF Ben Zobrist made a dazzling running and diving catch. … RHP Taylor Guerrieri, the 2011 top draft pick, had a second solid start for short-season A Hudson Valley on Monday, allowing one run and five hits over five innings, striking out six. … An error charged to 1B Carlos Peña in the June 19 game at Washington was changed to 3B Will Rhymes after a review. … Second-round pick SS Spencer Edwards, who signed for a reported $556,900, will join the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte. … Bucs QB Josh Freeman was a guest of the Rays; he was there Monday, too.

Comments
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

Rays journal: Whew. Alex Colome gets the job done

ST. PETERSBURG — In the end, Alex Colome got the three outs to save the game, the day and the stomach linings of his bosses from further deterioration, so in theory that should be what mattered most Wednesday.And the fact that he was smiling in...
Published: 04/18/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 4-2 Wednesday win

Alex Colome's ninth-inning dramatics took the focus, but the work of newly corn-rowed RHP Chaz Roe in the seventh (three Ks) and LHP Jose Alvarado (one K, two infield outs) was textbook, and showed how the bullpen can work.RELATED: Whew. Alex Colome ...
Published: 04/18/18
Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

Anonymous Rays rally to beat Rangers 4-2, win series

ST. PETERSBURG — Even before they lost several of the hitters they were relying most on to injuries, the Rays did not exactly have a lineup built on intimidation.Their own owner said opening day that he expected them to rank among the least pro...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays Baldelli makes a key catch

Rays coach Rocco Baldelli was all smiles Wednesday morning, happy to play a role through social media in reuniting a lost dog and its owner."I feel really good about how this worked out," Baldelli said.REUNITED! Thank you everyone for spreading the w...
Published: 04/18/18
For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

For starters: Rays vs. Rangers, with Faria on the hill

UPDATE, 12:01: Cash said Brad Miller (groin) got through his rehab game with the Stone Crabs well last night playing first and will play second tonight, with the likely plan to be off Thursday and rejoin the Rays Friday. … With 3B Matt Duffy on...
Published: 04/18/18
Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

Rays, Chirinos fall to Rangers, 7-2

ST. PETERSBURG — For three outings, rookie Yonny Chirinos had been stellar in making a case to join the Rays' starting rotation, not allowing a single run in the first 141/3 innings of his major-league career.That perfection came to an inevitab...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

Rays journal: Rays play it safe, put Matt Duffy on DL with hamstring injury

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Duffy is back on the disabled list.The Rays third baseman, who missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after leaving Monday's game in the first inning with t...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Rays takeaways: Just one bad outing, a rangey outfield, a sharp ex-Ray

Yonny Chirinos may still be an answer as the Rays look to fill out their rotation. He probably stayed in a little too long Tuesday, trailing 2-1 entering the fifth but giving up four runs the rest of the way. Bad starts caught up to him in the first,...
Published: 04/17/18
Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Rays-Rangers lineup: Matt Duffy to DL, Brandon Snyder up

Greetings from Tropicana Field, where another day brings another round of injury-related transactions for the Rays.Third baseman Matt Duffy, who left Monday's game with tightness in his right hamstring, has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, ta...
Published: 04/17/18