TORONTO — The Rays decided they couldn't wait any longer for OF Desmond Jennings' sprained left knee to improve, placing him on the 15-day disabled list before Monday's game and calling up OF/DH/C Stephen Vogt.
"He's not getting worse, he's just not getting better,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "You've got the status quo thing going on. We just can't really put a timeframe on it, so let's back off, not even worry about pinch-hitting and stuff like that … and just get him well.''
The lingering question is why they waited so long.
Jennings was injured May 6, and an MRI exam the next day revealed the sprain. The Rays, Maddon said, expected him to feel better, and get used to a brace, within a few days. But Jennings hit a plateau after a few days with continuing soreness, and with no progress or regress daily. Though Jennings hasn't been in the lineup or the outfield since the injury, he was used twice as a pinch-hitter, most recently on Friday.
As a result, the move to the disabled list can only be backdated to May 12, which means he won't be eligible to return until May 27. Had the Rays put him on the DL right away — and assuming he recovered quickly — he could have been back May 22.
Maddon said they hope he will be ready at the end of the 15 days, but aren't sure. "We're kinda betting on that a little bit, but you just don't know with an injury like this,'' he said.
Vogt was a surprise late addition to the opening day roster, then set a team record by going hitless in the first 13 at-bats of his career. He was sent to Durham on April 20 when CF B.J. Upton came off the DL and was hitting .214 with a homer and eight RBIs in 19 games.
But with their depth depleted by injury — Sam Fuld and Brandon Allen are on the DL, and Brandon Guyer is already called up — the Rays didn't have many options, and Vogt did have the advantage of being on the 40-man roster. The Rays have several veteran minor-leaguers at Durham, such as Jesus Feliciano and Jeff Salazar, whom to add they would have had to drop a player off the 40-man roster. DH/OF Hideki Matsui — who was in Toronto to get his work visa — isn't considered ready yet and reports today to Durham.
To help replenish some depth, former big-league 1B/OF Ryan Garko was signed to a minor-league deal, and will join Double-A Montgomery. Garko, 31, played parts of six seasons in the majors, primarily with Cleveland, and played last year in Korea. This year he was in the independent Atlantic League.
CATCHING ON: Chris Gimenez started behind the plate for the third straight game, but Maddon said it was because he matched up better with the opposing pitcher, not due to an injury or poor performance by veteran Jose Molina.
Maddon said he plans to decide playing time that way as much as possible, though also mindful of not playing Molina too much. It has helped that Gimenez, called up from Triple A when Jose Lobaton went on the DL in mid April, has played well.
ON DUTY: Sean Rodriguez admitted, reluctantly, he was even "more sore" Monday due to the muscle bruise or strain on the left side of his chest, but he was back in the lineup and said he plans to play through it.
"I'm going to, and because I have to," he said. "It's going to be pain tolerance."
He confirmed what seems obvious watching him play: "Everything I do, I feel it."
Maddon said the short-handed Rays pretty much needed him at third base due to the quick turf at Rogers Centre.
MISCELLANY: The six-run fifth matched the Rays' largest output for an inning. … Ben Zobrist leads the AL with 30 walks.