Injury sidelines top prospect Jennings again

St. Petersburg Times (Florida)


FORT MYERS — Top OF prospect Desmond Jennings’ first big-league spring training hasn’t been much fun.

Jennings is sidelined for the second time after spraining his left wrist Monday, and he will be out of action for at least another week.

Jennings, 23, will wear a splint for 5-7 days then work his way back into game form. The Rays said he is expected to be ready for the start of the season, presumably at Triple-A Durham.

“It’s not good, but it’s not bad,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I wanted to see more of him here, I wanted him to get more opportunities to play here. But I don’t expect it to have any kind of long-term impact.”

Jennings was hit by a pitch on his left elbow in the March 3 spring opener and missed three games. He returned to action late in Sunday’s game then was hurt in his first start Monday.

Injuries have been a problem for Jennings during his brief career, with his 2007 and 2008 seasons cut short.

“He’s a good-looking kid, and he’s going to be a great player,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get him out there and keep him healthy.”

ZO ON THE GO: Maddon said that “more than likely” the Rays will start the season with Ben Zobrist splitting time at both second base and in rightfield. “I think right now we’re looking at it as a platoon,” he said.

Zobrist, who played rightfield Wednesday for the first time this spring, said that’s fine with him. “That’s kind of what I expect as of right now, too,” he said. “I think we have a pretty good competition going on so far as to who’s going to win those other spots. I’m the flexible guy that’s kinda just on the outside of that willing to go wherever.”

What’s more interesting is that arrangement could mean there still is only room for one of the two infielders competing for playing time at second and off to sizzling spring starts – Sean Rodriguez (.438, three homers) and Reid Brignac (.471, majors-high-tying 10 RBIs). Or it could mean the Rays keep only one extra outfielder, either Matt Joyce or Gabe Kapler, knowing Zobrist could always lend a hand.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays rallied then hung on for their team-spring-record seventh straight win, 8-6 over the Red Sox. They won six straight, around a tie, in 2008, finishing 18-8-2. … SS Jason Bartlett and Brignac – who played third for the first time since high school – knocked in two runs apiece. … Bartlett and Rodriguez teamed in the middle infield for the first time but didn’t get any significant action. … RHP Joaquin Benoit allowed a leadoff homer for the second straight outing. … Maddon praised LHP Heath Phillips (3 IP) and RHP Joe Bateman (2 IP) for picking up the slack after David Price was injured in the second.

MISCELLANY: Maddon said discussed realignment plans that could change team assignments annually wasn’t a good idea: “I’ll go on record and say I don’t like that at all.” … Willy Aybar (left wrist sprain) makes his first spring appearance today as a DH. … Players have the annual MLB Security meeting this morning. … The team talent show, judged last year by Troy Percival, is tonight.

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