8/14/2014 8:33 P.M. ET
Rays join MLB in standing up to cancer
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rays will wear strikeout cancer T-shirts in support of the Moffitt Cancer Center as they join the fight to help #KCancer14 on Sept. 2.
Major League baseball players will stand together on that day and do their collective best to "strikeout cancer" when they host a player-led initiative to raise awareness and funds for cancer-related charities across the United States.
On Strikeout Cancer Day, players will wear Strikeout Cancer T-shirts on the way to the ballpark, in the clubhouse, in the batting cage, or after the game. The Players hope their support for each other and their fans will encourage others to do what they can to "strikeout cancer."
"Strikeout Cancer" day was created as an extension to an ongoing initiative spearheaded by St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Motte. Each team will be supporting a different cancer-fighting charitable organization, selected at the suggestion of the team's Player representative.
Proceeds from every shirt sold are split between the Jason Motte Foundation and the charity selected by the Player representative, who in many cases has a personal attachment to the charity because of someone he knows who has or had cancer.
In addition, the MLBPA will contribute its customary licensing fee to the brain tumor program at Columbia University Medical Center in memory of Michael Weiner, the former MLBPA executive director who passed away last November after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.
Evan Longoria is the Rays' representative, and he noted that he's been involved with Moffitt for four years, so he's happy about the group effort combining Mott's initiative with Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
"Just bringing it more mainstream to all 30 teams, and allowing every team to pick the charity of their choice, and the specific cancer of their choice," Longoria said. "It just show how many types of cancer there are and how many people are affected by different diseases. And how much of an impact we can have as a whole organization on the whole process. I think it's cool that all the teams are doing it and hopefully we'll get a ton of support from the fans."
Fans can take part by purchasing these shirts at www.108stitches.com. Fans purchasing shirts are encouraged to wear them to a Major League game on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Jennings hopes to return to lineup on Friday
ARLINGTON -- Desmond Jennings missed a second consecutive start on Thursday after running into the wall to make a circus catch of Rangers outfielder Leonys Martin's drive on Tuesday night and coming away with a sore left shoulder.
"He's getting better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "The shoulder's sore and the way he's described it, when he really goes to turn it loose, he feels it a little bit. But otherwise, he truly can pinch-hit tonight if we need him."
Jennings was asked about his shoulder and deadpanned: "It's all right."
When pressed about playing on Friday night in the opening game of the weekend series against the Yankees, Jennings replied: "I hope so."
"If he said that then I would feel pretty good about it," Maddon said. "It's not bad. He just needs another day to feel really good about it."
In the past, Jennings has had memorable outfield collisions with former teammate B.J. Upton and current teammate Wil Myers. In both cases, his teammates ended up on the disabled list and he walked away unharmed. A former high school football player of some note, Jennings was asked if he'd finally met his match in Globe Life Park's center-field wall, to which he replied with a smile: "The walls don't move. Teammates move."
Rays set for American Legion Weekend
ARLINGTON -- Rays manager Joe Maddon has declared this weekend American Legion Weekend. During each of the past two seasons, Maddon has set aside an entire week to change things up with this unique practice.
According to Maddon: "Most of us played Legion ball, when we showed up 10 minutes before game time. We didn't need BP, just stretch and go. I want to give the guys a rest and get them off the feet."
This season it is abbreviated to a weekend. The Rays will fly the flag of St. Petersburg American Legion Post 14 in the clubhouse this weekend. On Friday night during the Rays-Yankees game, the Rays will treat legion members to a night of free beer and sausages at the legion hall.
The Rays did the same thing in 2102 with Safety Harbor Post 238 and last year with Tampa Post 182.
"Coming off this trip was the perfect time to incorporate it," Maddon said. "... We've got three days at the right time, with a day off [Monday], so it's like American Legion half a week."
Myers close to returning from fractured wrist
ARLINGTON -- Wil Myers, who has been on the disabled list since June 1 with a right wrist fracture, has appeared in three games for Triple-A Durham on his rehab assignment. He is 4-for-9 with a grand slam, three walks and three stolen bases.
"Wil's doing well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "... He's doing good. Feels really good. The biggest thing he's doing right now is basically just timing. ... Otherwise he feels really good."
"... He's getting close. He's not far off. Primarily, as soon as he feels like he's seeing a fastball well, he'll be ready."
Last week, Maddon speculated that Myers needed "20 or 30 at-bats" before he'd be ready to return to the club.
"Yeah, probably three or four more games," Maddon said Thursday. "That will get him to 25 or so. Again, it could be longer than that. Once he says he's seeing the ball well, it feels good. That would be it."
Maddon allowed that Myers could be back by the end of the upcoming homestand, which runs Friday through Thursday.
"It's not impossible to see that happening," Maddon said. "There's no rush. It just really depends on, 'Hey, I'm seeing the ball good.' He's been really honest. ... He's just going to tell you what he thinks. So right now he just needs to see the fastball better."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.