03/24/2013 2:17 PM ET
Jennings making smooth transition to center field
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
TAMPA, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings played Gold Glove-caliber defense in 2012 while patrolling left field for the Rays. However, once B.J. Upton departed via free agency to play for the Braves, Jennings was asked to move to center field, the position he played most while coming up through the Rays' farm system.
As expected, that transition has been a smooth one.
"I feel good out there," Jennings said. "Been just like I figured it would be."
Rays manager Joe Maddon expected the transition to be routine for the athletic Jennings, who is speedy and has always run good routes in the outfield.
"I really didn't anticipate any problems at all," Maddon said. "He's played that a lot in the past, in the Minor Leagues. We've had him out there on different occasions. I think that was the position he was born to play. It was always nice having him in left with B.J. in center and [Matt] Joyce in right or [Ben] Zobrist -- that makes it thick. But putting him back in center field gives him a chance to really utilize his speed. Probably the biggest difference between him and B.J. is B.J. had more arm. Otherwise, I think there are a lot of similarities."
Jennings noted that he has had to make few adjustments due to the change.
"The hardest thing for me is to just know the hitters," Jennings said. "[Are] you going to play him to pull or hit to the opposite field? I just have to get back to figuring out who hits the ball where and positioning myself where you think you should be. The toughest part is knowing the hitter. What kind of power does he have? Is he going to slap it?"
Jennings has experienced some injuries during past Spring Trainings, so he's pleased with the way this camp has gone since he's been injury-free.
"My main goal is to stay on the field," Jennings said. "And that's the No. 1 goal. And I've been feeling good. My body feels good. Health-wise, it's the best I've felt going into the start of the season. I'm still working on things in the outfield and hitting. But all in all, I feel pretty good."
Rays need to make a decision on Wright soon
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jamey Wright signed a Minor League contract with the Rays on Jan. 22 and may request out of his contract on Tuesday if he does not make the Major League roster, which means the Rays must make a decision on the veteran right-hander by Tuesday.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was "really happy with Jamey Wright."
"The ball's been up a little bit, that's been it," Maddon said. "Otherwise, the gun numbers are good, breaking ball's good. He feels well. I think here's a guy who wants to get to the regular season when it matters, and you're going to see the ball where it's supposed to be. ... That's what I think.
"There's so much I like about him also, just personality-wise and what he does with the entire group. If you give up a couple of home runs or hits during Spring Training, that really does not bother me. I think he's off a little bit with command, but not because there is anything wrong with him. I think it's just that time of the year yet."
• Maddon said he was surprised that Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher was dismissed Saturday night.
"I have not been following the NHL too much, but he's such a good guy and such a bright man," Maddon said. "And he's done so well there. Again, I don't know the dynamic, but I wish him and his family well. He was fun to talk to, because he has a lot of great ideas and he's a little bit of an outside-the-box thinker himself. So for all those different reasons, there was an easy affinity toward him. I'm sorry to hear it and I wish the Lightning the best. But this guy here I thought was a pretty good coach."
• Maddon said Kyle Farnsworth checked out fine after dinging the middle finger of his right hand on Saturday while trying to field a ball hit back at him.
• The Rays met with a nutritionist this weekend, at which time they heard the ins and outs of what to eat and what to avoid. Maddon noted that "the kind of fuel that you put in your engine matters." Ironically one of the more sculpted bodies around the Rays clubhouse belongs to former player and current coach, George Hendrick, who is 63 and knows his way around a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
"George is a freak of nature and we've known that," Maddon said. "There is nobody that can eat more doughnuts and look that good in the world."
• Joyce slipped right when the team took the field to stretch before Sunday's game against the Yankees, tweaking his right ankle in the process. Fortunately the Rays outfielder had the ankle taped and, as he said, "I'm good to go."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.