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Rays notes: Jennings slides to seventh in order

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 07:03 PM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -

After leading off for most of the year, Rays LF Desmond Jennings slid to seventh for Tuesday's game against the Royals.

Jennings entered the game 4 for his previous 31 (.129) with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts. He'd led off the previous 12 games he started but has yet to hit his stride offensively.

"He's just been off of his game, and I wanted to take a little pressure off of him," manager Joe Maddon said. "We did the same thing even for one game in the playoffs, and he came back really well. More than anything, I just think he's off his game. I want him to just go out there and play."

Jennings missed three weeks this season with a knee injury, which forced him to wear a brace upon his return. However, he hasn't worn the brace for the past two games.

The decision to move Jennings, 25, came a day after the Rays were shut out by up-and-down Royals starter Luke Hochevar in Monday's 8-0 loss. Maddon, though, insisted he isn't worried about Jennings, a career .245 hitter.

"I just thought it was the right time to move him back and take it off of him a little," he said. "Listen, he's going to heat up again and once he does he's going to lead us to the promised land."

Injury updates

Maddon said Thursday is a possible day for DH Luke Scott to return to the Rays. Scott, who has nine home runs in 51 games, has been out since June 8 with back stiffness.

Starter Jeremy Hellickson threw again before Tuesday's game and said he "felt really good." Maddon said Hellickson (shoulder fatigue) could start Saturday.

All about Rodney

On Monday, Maddon said he thought closer Fernando Rodney should be an All-Star. On Tuesday, Rodney said he hadn't thought much about it, but he did acknowledge it was something he would like to do.

"All baseball players want to be All-Star players," Rodney said. "You want to be in the game, you want to be in the show because it's the one opportunity you're looking for."

It would be the first All-Star game of Rodney's 10-year career.

This year, he has done something he never has done before. He has shot arrows. Or, more accurately, he has developed a popular post-save celebration where he pretends to shoot an arrow.

"I never did it before," said Rodney, who has 21 saves. "But this year I said, 'Oh, let me do something different.' It's different, and it's working good. I'm going to keep it."

For the record, Rodney said hasn't shot a real bow and arrow before.

More strikes from Moore

There is one fact everyone can agree on about today's afternoon game: It's going to be hot. Like 101 degrees hot.

LHP Matt Moore, 23, said he must attack the strike zone and take advantage of eager hitters on a day when the heat index will near 110.

"From my experience," Moore said, "it seems like hitters are a little more anxious to swing and a little less likely to work deep into counts."

Moore is coming off a start against Washington he characterized as "very inconsistent." He gave up only two runs, but he lasted just five innings and said he struggled to find any rhythm.

In his four starts before that, Moore, a rookie, went 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA.

Garza trade in action

RHP Chris Archer started Tuesday, just one part of the trade that sent RHP Matt Garza to the Cubs. The Rays dealt Garza, OF Fernando Perez and P Zachary Rosscup and received Archer, C Robinson Chirinos, SS Hak-Ju Lee, OF Sam Fuld and OF Brandon Guyer.

All but Lee have spent time in the majors.

"Garza got a nice return for us right there," Maddon said. "A lot of these guys have made an impact, and there's still a greater impact possible to make by several of them, including Hak-Ju Lee.

"It's been a great trade to this point for us, and I'd like to believe the Cubs are happy on their side, too. I do believe it speaks to what the Cubs did originally with those guys."

Jayson Jenks

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