Rays journal: A parting gift for Jennings; solid showing by Eovaldi

The Rays released the veteran reliever.
Dan Jennings spent all spring with the Rays. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
Dan Jennings spent all spring with the Rays. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
Published Mar. 26, 2018|Updated Mar. 27, 2018

LAKELAND — The Rays didn't have a spot for LHP Dan Jennings in their bullpen, then they couldn't find anyone else to take him in trade.

So they instead will release the veteran obtained from the White Sox last July, paying $574,597, which is one-fourth of his non-guaranteed $2.375-million salary.

"I said it to him, I'll say it to you guys — he's a big-league pitcher," manager Kevin Cash said. "I'll be very surprised if he doesn't find himself on a big-league roster here soon."

Though Jennings didn't pitch well after being acquired for 2014 first-round pick 1B Casey Gillaspie, his release was also in part the product of the Rays' plan to carry four multi-inning relievers to support a four-man rotation, and Jose Alvarado winning the lefty short relief job. Jennings will be free to sign elsewhere after clearing release waivers Wednesday.

"It wasn't a slight to DJ at all," Cash said. "The way we're set up with four guys that we need to go longer we've got confidence those guys can do it. And Jose Alvarado belongs on our team."

That setup had a similar impact on veteran LHP Jonny Venters, who was formally reassigned to minor-league camp Monday despite an impressive spring of eight scoreless outings in his bid to return to the majors for the first time since 2012 following multiple elbow injuries.

The Rays would like to have Venters at Triple-A for a potential callup, but is also willing to trade him as a courtesy if another team offers a major-league spot.

The Rays are still working on resolution with RHP Daniel Hudson, hoping to find a trade to avoid paying $4.5 million to release him.
Nathan's famous

RHP Nathan Eovaldi, coming back from a second Tommy John surgery, had a solid six-inning, 89-pitch outing against the Tigers, hitting 98 mph in his final frame, to wrap a strong spring. "I expected it to go well," Eovaldi said. "But I was a little bit more pleased with how everything went, how I was able to bounce back from all the outings and go out there every five or six days." Cash said Eovaldi has done well enough that the Rays may occasionally relax their plans to limit and manage his workload.

Quote of the day

"At least the fans weren't asking for my autograph since they didn't know who I was."— INF Daniel Robertson, joking about wearing a nameless No. 79 jersey because his usual No. 28 jersey didn't make it from Port Charlotte to Lakeland.


• Brad Miller's first spring homer gave the Rays a 2-0 lead in what ended a 2-2 tie with Detroit. They are 14-15-2 heading into Tuesday's spring finale.

• C Jesus Sucre was removed from the game after being hit on the mask by back-to-back foul tips in the ninth but Cash it was precautionary and he was fine.

• Cash said the decision between Johnny Field, Brandon Snyder or bringing in someone else for the fifth outfield spot won't be made until after Tuesday's Tropicana Field exhibition at the earliest.

• RHP Chris Archer threw a 30-pitch bullpen session at the Trop Monday with no issues from the right forearm bruise sustained Friday leaving Cash "no concern whatsoever" about his availability for Thursday's opener.

• The team and new concessionaire Levy will unveil new menu items and renovated retail and food areas Tuesday, including a Ballpark & Rec area (from the folks that run St. Petersburg's popular Park & Rec) with an outdoor patio; and the Rocco Ball Deli.