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Rays' Jennings diagnosed with thickened tissue under kneecap

Desmond Jennings has thickened tissue shaved down.
Desmond Jennings has thickened tissue shaved down.
Published Jun. 11, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays finally found out what was wrong with OF Desmond Jennings' sore left knee Wednesday when arthroscopic surgery in Colorado revealed some thickened tissue under his kneecap that was shaved down.

Now they will have to wait another eight weeks or so — until around mid August — to get him back in the lineup.

"I think we're all happy for Des — he's been really battling, frustrated with an injury there was some uncertainty on," manager Kevin Cash said. "Hopefully we found some clarity. The doc went in there and scoped it out.''

Dr. Steven Singleton, of the Vail-based Steadman Clinic, performed the procedure on the plica band; the thickening was only discovered Wednesday as it did not show up on any of three MRI exams. Team orthopedist Dr. Koco Eaton suggested the same exploratory procedure and the possibility of the plica issue last week, but Jennings opted for a second opinion.

DRAFT BREEZE: The Rays were typically pleased with their overall haul as they completed the 40-round draft. Scouting director R.J. Harrison said they were especially excited to start the third day by taking Tulane RHP Ian Gibaut in the 11th round and Cal-State Fullerton OF David Olmedo-Barrera in the 12th, two players they had pegged to go earlier. They also took one local player, USF senior SS Kyle Teaf.

Of their picks, 23 were college players, 13 in a row from rounds 3-15. Harrison said that wasn't a philosophical change but a product of the MLB system that assigns each team a signing pool for the top 10 rounds (the Rays got $6,591,300) and the quality of the available (thus more experienced) collegians compared to high schoolers.

"You can't take as many chances with guys. You have to have some pretty good certainty that you're going to be able to sign guys in the first 10 rounds," he said. "It just pushes you more, it makes the college guy (make) more sense."

The Rays took 18 pitchers (though only one left-hander), four catchers, 10 infielders and eight outfielders. Harrison said negotiations have opened with top pick Garrett Whitley and they plan to have the outfielder in for a physical, and hopefully signed, by Sunday.

MOORE PROGRESS: After a solid four-inning, 65-pitch outing Tuesday in Dunedin, LHP Matt Moore said he is scheduled for two more rehab starts which could — "in a perfect world" — see him rejoin the Rays rotation as soon as June 26.

But based on how those go — tentatively Monday for the advanced Class A Stone Crabs in Port Charlotte, June 20 for Triple-A Durham — the Rays could decide on another rehab start or two.

"I don't know what's going to go into that decision, but I think it will be a lot better to make it when we get closer to that time," Moore said.

Moore said the best thing about Tuesday's outing was that he was more aggressive and sharper with his pitches, and rather than feel like he was rehabbing, he was able to compete: "I just kind of lost myself and just played."

Moore was clocked in the 90-93 mph range, and though he hopes that increases, "at this point it's kind of like the extra icing. I'm okay where I'm at right now velocity wise.''

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PITCHING IN: RHP Preston Guilmet was called up to take the open revolving spot in the bullpen, replacing LHP Enny Romero. Guilmet may have a short stay, with RHP Matt Andriese likely to be recalled to start Friday. RHP Andrew Bellatti is also a possibility if available. … RHP Kirby Yates (right pec strain) was reinstated from the DL and optioned to Triple-A Durham. … LHP Grayson Garvin, a 2011 supplemental first-round pick who already has had Tommy John surgery, is unlikely to pitch this season due to additional arm issues.

MISCELLANY: With a bunt single, INF Nick Franklin's hit total (four) now matches his errors. … 3B Evan Longoria today kicks off the annual Reading With the Rays program sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times. … NCAA Division II national champion Tampa will get to hit and be honored before tonight's game.