Saturday, February 17, 2018
Sports

Ex-Ray Jennings goes unclaimed, not ready to play

BOSTON — OF Desmond Jennings went unclaimed on waivers and became a free agent Tuesday after his release by the Rays on Saturday, and it is unclear when he will play again.

Jennings currently is "unable to play due to his knee injury," said agent Mike Fiore of the Boras Corp. in an email. "So we shall see what the future holds."

Jennings, 29, was on the DL with a left knee bruise at the time of his release, having been limited to 65 games due to knee and hamstring injuries. He played 28 in 2015 and missed the final 28 of the 2014 season due to left knee issues as well.

"If the knee gets strong enough to play then I believe he will have interest from several teams," Fiore said.

The Rays are responsible for the rest of Jennings' $3.3 million salary, though if he were to sign, his new team would pay a pro-rated share of the MLB minimum.

WEATHER OR NOT: The Rays are operating as if they can fly to Tampa after this afternoon's game, but travel director Chris Westmoreland is exploring contingencies if the looming storm makes that prohibitive.

The Rays are considering flying into either Orlando or Fort Myers if the weather is better there then busing back to Tampa/St. Petersburg. As a last option, they would spend the night in Boston then fly back when possible Thursday, which is an off day, in advance of Friday's game vs. Toronto.

There is also a concern for the Blue Jays, who play in Baltimore tonight then are slated to fly to Tampa.

REINFORCEMENTS: Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays are looking at adding a reliever or two from Triple-A Durham after rosters can be expanded Thursday, but they probably will wait to make other callups until the end of the Bulls' season. The regular season ends Monday, but despite a 60-77 record, the Bulls are just 2½ games from first place in their division.

GELTZ SHUFFLE: Though the Rays announced RHP Steve Geltz was optioned to Durham on Sunday, he technically was designated for assignment and passed through optional waivers, which he should clear today, and thus remained on the 40-man roster. The Rays made a similar move earlier this season with RHP Danny Farquhar, which is required for certain players at certain times of the season based on when they were first called up, and there is an unofficial agreement among teams to not claim them.

WRIGHT STUFF: The Rays have plenty of experience facing knuckleballs thrown by Toronto's R.A. Dickey, but Red Sox RHP Steven Wright presents a different challenge today.

Cash said Wright's knuckleball is more similar to that of Boston's Tim Wakefield, whom Cash used to catch.

"The best way I can describe it is you watch Steven Wright pitch and he throws a lot of knuckleballs that drop out of the zone," Cash said. "Dickey, to me, he uses a little bit more power and he likes the ones that take off a lot. So it's a little difference in that regard."

GOOD HEALTH: After being limited to 12 starts last year due to shoulder issues, LHP Drew Smyly today will make his career-most 26th start and is three innings from matching his career high of 153. "Making all my starts, staying healthy, staying off the DL — you want to just continue to take the ball and be there for your team," he said. "And I'm thankful I've been able to do that this year."

MISCELLANY: Cash said Nick Franklin, who has already started games at 1B, 2B, LF, RF and DH, will get a couple of starts at short in September and may get some time in CF. … RHP Alex Cobb felt good after throwing his bullpen session Tuesday in advance of his Friday return from Tommy John surgery to the rotation. … Cash said the Rays were looking to give SS Matt Duffy a day off his feet, but he wanted to play and they opted for a DH assignment. … Today is the last day a player can be traded to be playoff eligible.

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