ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon says there’s no reason for alarm with outfielder Desmond Jennings, but the team has taken a cautious approach.
On Saturday, Maddon said Jennings has dealt with a groin injury sustained in the first inning of the Rays’ loss to the Baltimore Orioles last Monday at Camden Yards. Jennings was available off the bench for the Rays against the New York Yankees on Saturday in the third game of a four-game set at Tropicana Field. But Maddon said a pinch-runner would be used if necessary.
Jennings has received limited work of late. He started at his usual center-field spot Wednesday at Camden Yards, but he was the Rays’ designated hitter in a loss to the Yankees on Thursday. He had an RBI as a pinch-hitter in Tampa Bay’s victory over New York on Friday.
Maddon said he received a positive report from Ron Porterfield, the Rays’ head athletic trainer.
”We don’t think it’s anything serious,” Maddon said, ”but I just don’t want to push him right now. â¦ Ronnie doesn’t think it’s serious. The fact that we were even willing to pinch-hit him yesterday also speaks to that too. I honestly don’t believe it’s anything horrible. I’m not getting that from Ronnie.”
Maddon said the team plans to keep Jennings as a bench option through Sunday. The Rays are off Monday, before opening a three-game series Tuesday at Tropicana Field against the Minnesota Twins. Jennings, who’s hitting .264 with one home run and five RBI this season, could return to the lineup then.
C.J. RIEFENHAUSER PROMOTED
He received the call, then he had no words to follow. The excitement was too overwhelming for left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser. He was bound for the big leagues, and a dream had come true.
Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo told Riefenhauser about the call-up to remember at about midnight Saturday. The Rays promoted the 24-year-old native of Mahopac, N.Y., after right-hander Brad Boxberger was optioned to Durham following a two-inning, two-strikeout relief outing in the Rays’ victory Friday.
Riefenhauser, who participated in the MLB All-Star Futures Game last year, was the lone reliever named to Baseball America’s 2013 Minor League All-Star Team.
”At first, I thought he was kind of kidding with me,” Riefenhauser said of Montoyo. ”I didn’t know who it really was. It was him and his wife yelling into the phone, ‘Congratulations!’ I was like, ‘Who is this?’ ”
Riefenhauser, who grew up a Yankees fan, had a whirlwind experience reaching Tropicana Field. He was with Durham on Friday when the Bulls won in Norfolk, Va. After receiving the news, he made calls before finally going to bed at about 2:30 a.m. He woke up at about 7:30 a.m. before flying from Norfolk to the Bay Area, via Charlotte, and arriving in the Rays clubhouse to well wishes from teammates shortly before stretches began at 4:15 p.m.
”By the time my phone calls were done, I still had a half hour just sitting up looking up at the ceiling like, ‘What is going on?’ ” Riefenhauser said of his early morning hours. ”But I got up at 7:30. I had a couple hours, slept on the plane. Just ready to rock and roll.”
Meanwhile, Maddon had good things to say about Boxberger, gained in a seven-player trade with the San Diego Padres in January. Maddon said Boxberger should be seen with the Rays later this season.
”Boxberger is a major-league pitcher, period,” Maddon said. ”Sometimes, the rules work against young pitchers and players. But there’s going to be a time when it’s going to work in his favor also.”
MATT MOORE PREPARED FOR TOMMY JOHN
Matt Moore is prepared for his Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.
The left-hander, who has a partially torn ulnar-collateral ligament in his left elbow, is scheduled to have the operation Tuesday. Renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews will perform the procedure in Pensacola, Fla., and Moore plans to make his way to the state’s panhandle Sunday. He’s expected to be out about a year.
”I feel in a really good place with it,” Moore said.
CESAR RAMOS AND CHIRPING
Left-hander Cesar Ramos has picked up some differences between bullpen life and an existence as a starter.
For one, there’s much more chatter in the dugout.
”There’s just a lot of chirping from dugouts that I never really realized how much stuff gets said,” Ramos said. ”But on the field, you don’t hear it.”
Ramos, inserted into the rotation with injuries to Moore and right-hander Alex Cobb, will look for a longer outing when he starts Sunday in the series finale against the Yankees. The former long reliever lasted two innings and allowed four runs and three hits in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds last Sunday.
”You hope for another opportunity and definitely take advantage of it this time,” Ramos said.
BUNCH OF RUNS
The Rays’ 11 runs Friday were more than their previous six games combined, when they scored 10 from April 11-17. It’s the third time in team history that they’ve scored more in one game than their previous six.
The other two instances: A 9-7 victory over the Chicago White Sox on April 8, 2011 (scored eight runs from April 1-7) and an 8-4 victory over the Orioles on Sept. 14, 2009 (six from Sept. 7-13).