4/5/2014 1:09 A.M. ET
Jennings off to a running start in '14
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG -- Desmond Jennings is off and running to a good start this season.
He entered Friday night's game against the Rangers hitting .357 and has shown a lot of aggressiveness on the bases.
"We've talked to him about that a lot," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The big thing is, he's working at-bats. He's getting out there. I think a good baserunner, a good base-stealer, has to get out there a lot.
"So the more he gets out there, if he gets to that 35 percent [on-base percentage], if he does that, that's an elite hitter and you'll see elite base-running skills out of him from getting on that often."
The Rays go on the road after a run of seven games on Tropicana Field's artificial surface ends Sunday. Nevertheless, Maddon said he didn't think he would be giving Jennings a day off the turf this early.
"Seven-game stand coming off the grass of Spring Training," Maddon said. "We didn't push him real hard. I'm not really seeing any reason yet."
Pena to Longoria: 'It's about time' to tie record
ST. PETERSBURG -- On Thursday night, Evan Longoria hit his 163rd career homer, tying Carlos Pena's franchise home run record.
Longoria did so with a three-run blast off right-hander Esmil Rogers in the seventh inning of the Rays' 7-2 win over the Blue Jays.
Pena kept his sense of humor when contacted about Longoria tying his record by texting: "It's about time."
When told of his former teammate's response, Longoria smiled and noted the obvious: "Records are made to be broken."
Once Longoria hits his next home run, making him the career leader for the franchise, he will become the only franchise leader in baseball currently with that team.
Next in line are Paul Konerko of the White Sox, who trails Frank Thomas (448 White Sox homers) by 21, David Wright of the Mets trails Darryl Strawberry (252) by 29 and Miami's Giancarlo Stanton sits 36 behind Dan Uggla (154).
Longoria's home run on Thursday night was the first of the season for the Rays. The team had gone 32 innings without a homer to begin the year, the longest drought in club history to open a season.
Longoria's first home run of the season came with two outs -- his 39th two-out homer since the start of 2011, out of 81 overall. This ranks second among all Major Leaguers after Detroit's Miguel Cabrera (49).
On Friday, the Rays announced that for the third consecutive season, every home run that Longoria hits will benefit the Pet Pal Animal Shelter, a no-kill, non-profit shelter in St. Petersburg.
Longoria will join Bright House Sports Network, the Rays and Ducky's Sports Lounge to each donate $100 to the shelter for every home run. Over the past two seasons, Longoria has raised $20,000 for Pet Pal with his 49 home runs.
Rodriguez drives in four after birth of fourth child
ST. PETERSBURG -- After being reinstated from the paternity list on Friday, Sean Rodriguez celebrated the birth of his son by hitting a three-run homer and driving in four in an 8-1 victory over the Rangers at Tropicana Field.
Rodriguez, who homered in the third inning and was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first, tied his career high with four RBIs.
"It's been great with the birth of my son, and getting a W topped off a great day," Rodriguez said.
On Thursday, Rodriguez and his wife, Gisele, welcomed to the world their son, Zekiel Cruz, who was born at 12:47 p.m. at Bayfront Baby Place.
"Delivery went great," Rodriguez said before the game. "Giselle was a little bit in pain early on, but I guess having a couple made the delivery a lot less time-consuming, but it went well. She's strong."
Zekiel weighed in at 9 pounds and 24-1/4 inches tall. He is the couple's fourth child.
"I definitely got my infield, first to third," Rodriguez said. "I'm pretty sure we're done though. We talked about that, hopefully we can keep it that way."
While Rodriguez was away from the team, he managed to watch the game on TV.
"I missed being able to be there," Rodriguez said. "It's a different view on TV as opposed to being out there."
As for watching the birth?
"I would say each kid brings its own uniqueness and genuineness," Rodriguez said. "A lot of the same things go over. Everything had its own uniqueness I'd say."
Daniel Murphy of the Mets was criticized this week by New York sports talk radio personalities Mike Francesa and Boomer Esiason because Murphy missed two games over three days due to the birth of his son, which caused a storm of opinions weighing in on the subject.
Joe Maddon noted he's all for players taking off for significant moments, like a child being born. In addition to the significance of being present at such a moment, the Rays' manager pointed out that not every delivery goes as planned.
"There are potential complications," Maddon said. "Not every child birth is routine."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.