It took awhile, but
Tampa Bay’s dynamic center fielder entered Saturday’s game tied for fourth in the American League with 14 runs scored, a testament to his skills on the base paths and his newfound discipline at the plate.
“Dez is the key,” teammate
Jennings has walked seven times in 16 games and manager
“Desmond has a chance to be a very classic leadoff hitter as he gains more experience,” Maddon said. “He’s a really good base stealer and the big thing with him is that when he doesn’t expand his strike zone and accepts his walks, that’s when he becomes very dangerous.”
The franchise record for runs in a season is held by
“My job is to get on base, period,” Jennings said. “I don’t care if it’s a hit or a walk, it counts. For me, it’s all about scoring runs.’’
Despite making solid contact consistently, Jennings is saddled with a .242 batting average.
“The start of the year has been real bad luck for him,” Rodriguez said. “He has hit a lot of balls on a line, right at guys. I hope it evens out for him.”
Turn it up In an effort to get his team loose, Maddon ordered up a new wrinkle in the Rays clubhouse before Saturday’s matchup against Oakland.
When players arrived, they saw a D.J. stationed outside of Maddon’s office cranking out hip-hop or classic rock by Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin at top volume.
Some players displayed their dance moves as they strolled by.
“I’ve been in a lot of places,” said 33-year-old DH
With Tampa Bay off to a 6-10 start, Maddon said he wanted to take some pressure off the last-place team in the AL East.
“We wanted to have our guys prep for tonight’s game in another way,” Maddon said. “I’m not a manager who is into an extra 100 swings before every game. I think that could be counterproductive. I want our guys to chill out a little bit, play hard and not worry about making mistakes, ever. This is my way of getting the point across.’’
Maddon hinted that he has another innovative pregame approach planned for this afternoon’s matchup against the A’s.
Finding his groove After a sluggish start, first baseman
“He’s got a little bit of a different set-up and his confidence is up,” Maddon said. “This guy hits the ball far in batting practice … he’s got power. Right now, he’s on a nice hot streak, hitting a lot of line drives and using the whole field. He’s just got a really good look about him.”
Noteworthy Maddon said DH