5/26/2013 6:02 P.M. ET
Jennings needs to make chances to steal
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Stealing bases isn't always about stealing bases. Desmond Jennings has the speed and the ability to be one of the Majors' best thieves, but he entered Sunday's game against the Yankees with just seven.
"A lot of it has to do with getting on base," manager Joe Maddon said. "When you get a little bit cold offensively, as a basestealer, of course, you don't have as many opportunities. Good basestealers, they're getting out there on a consistent basis, and they've got that vibe going on."
Jennings entered Sunday's action hitting .233, with a .293 on-base percentage.
"He just needs to get back out there, get that on-base percentage back up there," Maddon said. "Accept his walks. Early in the year and during Spring Training, his strike zone was in good order when he was out there a lot. And that's when you see him go. That's always been the case. All the good basestealers that I've had, when they've struggled, then they get out there sporadically, [they're] not as clean on the basestealing. He needs to just get out there more."
"It's just like any other thing," Jennings said. "When you get on, you don't want to just get on and run. You don't want to run into an out or get picked off. It's something, when you haven't been on base in a while, you have to get the timing of the pitcher. You have to get your jumps. It's different. It's about a comfort level more than anything."
The Rays have just 22 stolen bases this season. Clearly, they are not the running Rays of years past.
"We're more situational than we have been," Maddon said. "We've been OK, we've gotten thrown out on the bases way too often this year. A lot of it has been pickoffs. A couple of line drives. Sometimes that can be cyclical also. I just want us to be smart."
Rodney gets vote of confidence from Eckersley
ST. PETERSBURG -- Closer Fernando Rodney was charged with his Major League-leading fifth blown save on Saturday night in the Rays' 4-3 loss to the Yankees.
Rodney already has more blown saves (five in 14 chances), runs allowed (13, all earned) and walks (18) than he did over the course of the entire 2012 season (two blown saves in 50 chances, five earned runs and 15 walks).
Entering Sunday, his save percentage was 64 percent, which projects to a 33- to 36-save season accompanied by 11 to 14 blown opportunities. That translates to another six to nine blown saves over the remaining 114 games.
Fourteen blown saves is the Major League record.
Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley was at Tropicana Field on Sunday for the TBS broadcast and was asked how a closer works through a stretch such as the one Rodney is experiencing.
"You feel like you let the team down," Eckersley said. "You may feel like you're still throwing the ball well, but you let the team down. Everybody says they're so concerned about him because he's so important. They want to turn the page, too. You have to know that. Obviously, the confidence is there, he's got the stuff, but his command is messed up. … He's a little off, a little tick. Then he gave up a couple of cheap hits last night, and geez."
Eckersley sounded as though he expects Rodney to right the ship.
"He's been doing it for a while," he said, "and he's in the right environment for it. When you're good like that, they come after you. Don't be so good."
Cobb won't dwell on 'what if' play at first
ST. PETERSBURG -- "What if" seemed to be in the minds of the fans watching Sunday's Rays-Yankees game at Tropicana Field.
Starter Alex Cobb had cut up the Yankees' lineup through six innings and, save for an infield single in the third, would have been perfect.
The problem came when replays showed that Jayson Nix's infield single should have been an out.
First-base umpire James Hoye missed the call, which did not look close. At such moments, fans always hark back to Jim Joyce's blown call at first base, which cost Detroit's Armando Galarraga a perfect game.
Manager Joe Maddon went out to dispute the call, to no avail.
"I really felt strongly that the call was wrong at first base, and I told the umpire that he was significantly out," Maddon said. "I said to [Hoye], 'What do you have?' And he said, 'He beat it.' And I said, 'Now, if you had told me he was off the bag, you'd have a legitimate argument there.' I said, 'The moment you told me he had beaten it out, I totally disagreed.'"
The ticklish situation that could have resulted had Cobb finished his masterpiece was avoided when Robinson Cano laced a single through the middle to start the seventh.
In the end, Cobb was happy to have pitched well and come away with his sixth win of the season. He insisted that at no point did he think "what if" prior to Cano's hit.
"I didn't even think about it [until I was asked about it]," Cobb said. "I didn't think about it. Once I gave up a hit, I was just trying to attack hitters and not let that hurt me or affect me mentally going further in the game."
Rays to recognize Armed Forces on Monday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Monday's 3:10 p.m. ET game against the Marlins at Tropicana Field is also the Rays' Salute to Veterans game, as the organization will recognize past and present members of the Armed Forces.
In honor of Memorial Day, the Rays and Marlins -- along with all other clubs -- will also wear specially designed caps and jerseys featuring an authentic camouflage design licensed by the U.S. Marine Corps.
At 1 p.m., wives of the Rays and Marlins will play a softball game; the Rays wives took last year's contest, played in Miami.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.