ST. PETERSBURG -- Carlos Pena is batting .131 (8-for-61) with 24 strikeouts in May, which serves as ample motivation for the Rays first baseman to try something to get back in the groove. So he went with small ball on Saturday.
"When things don't go right, usually you just feel out of sync," Pena said.
The Rays have a pitching machine that throws small baseballs for batting practice.
"The whole point of that drill is to keep your body out of your swing and use your hands more, and I think [Pena] did a great job with that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He and I were talking, and I thought he was getting his body involved way too much.
"Early in the season, there was a lot of hand involvement. He does that drill really, really well. That was great. Now, it's a matter of taking it into the game, but a lot of confidence [can] be derived from doing something like that around 2 o'clock for a 4 o'clock game."
Maddon classified the small ball routine as a "feel drill."
"So much of our game is based on feel -- and that helps you re-establish the feel in your hands, bat head, or whatever, quickly and without a whole lot of thought," Maddon said. "So he felt good about it."
Pena likes the drill.
"It's good, the ball is smaller, it's heavier," Pena said. "That's a good machine to kind of simplify things and try to get it all in line. Feels like you're hitting a golf ball because it's heavy and solid."
Jennings' knee now feels 'good'
ST. PETERSBURG -- Desmond Jennings is on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 12 with a left knee sprain, so he won't be eligible to play again until May 27.
Thus, Jennings will miss seven more games. The good news comes in how Jennings now feels "good."
The Rays left-fielder actually smiled when asked about his condition prior to Saturday afternoon's game.
"I think I'll definitely be ready when it's time to come off [the DL]," Jennings said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon wasn't sure if Jennings will need to play in a rehab game or two prior to returning to the team.
"If we can we might want to have him [play in a game] if he's able to prior to his date, the due date to get him back out there and going," Maddon said. "But [head athletic trainer] Ronnie [Porterfield] was pretty positive that it would not be much longer than the minimum amount of time to do all of this."
Much of what Jennings does well on the field involves his speed, which was a factor that played into the cautious approach the Rays have taken for his return.
"Why push his legs right now if that's one of the biggest parts of his game?" Maddon said. "So we did, we wanted to be cautious with it. ... We thought it was going to be a little bit sooner and so we kept doing the pinch-hitting thing. Because there was a time when we thought he'd actually be able to DH and not play the outfield, but it just did not work out that way. ... I really don't anticipate a lot of lingering effects."
Rhymes returns to Rays lineup
ST. PETERSBURG -- After missing the last two games due to bruising and swelling on his arm, Will Rhymes was in the lineup at second base on Saturday against Atlanta.
"Will was expecting to be able to play [on Friday], and he probably could have," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But [head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] felt one more day was probably the good thing to do."
Rhymes was hit with a 95-mph pitch by Boston's Franklin Morales on Wednesday. After walking to first base, the 29-year-old collapsed and passed out. He regained consciousness moments later and was carted off the field. Maddon added the team is not concerned about Rhymes' fainting.
"Ronnie [Porterfield] was just concerned about the bruising and the fact that the bruising could move up," Maddon said. "There's always the danger of a blood clot in moments like that, so Ronnie was just being very vigilant."
Rhymes is batting .283 for Tampa Bay this season with two RBIs in 14 games. He was called up on May 1 to take the place of third baseman Evan Longoria, who has a partially torn left hamstring.
Longoria is on the disabled list with eight other Rays players. Brandon Allen went 1-for-4 with a solo home run in a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte against the Tampa Yankees. Catcher Jose Lobaton also had a rehab start and caught eight innings for Double-A Montgomery in a road game against the Birmingham Barons. He was 0-for-3 with a walk.
Fuld to sit in on Sunday's game broadcast
ST. PETERSBURG -- Outfielder Sam Fuld will be joining Rays broadcasters Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson in the booth for the finale of Tampa Bay's Interleague series with Atlanta. Fuld will primarily provide sabermetric analysis throughout the game.
"There won't be much dead air, I'm a little worried about getting a few words in," Fuld joked. "I think there's a few of the bigger stats that have become big in the game that we're just going to go over, over the course of the game."
Among his favorite "new" stats are ones that measure defensive effectiveness -- including ultimate zone rating, which aims to quantify how many runs a player saves with his defense.
"I think that's the one part of the game that [people] can probably make some more advancements on," Fuld said about being able to quantify defensive ability.
He also joked he might be underdressed for the broadcast because he doesn't own a jacket.
"I might actually have to go to the mall after the game [on Saturday] and get a sports coat," Fuld said.
Fuld is currently on the 60-day disabled list with a right wrist injury. He said the wrist feels "good" and that it is "coming along." He added he will be traveling to Cleveland on Tuesday for a follow-up appointment. The range of motion is mostly back and it's a matter of strengthening it. Fuld has not appeared in a game this season, but played in 105 games in 2011 -- hitting .240 with 27 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.