Jennings' strong performance worth the wait

Jennings' strong performance worth the wait

KANSAS CITY -- Desmond Jennings was scratched from the lineup for Triple-A Durham's game against Toledo on Friday night. After the game, the Rays top prospect got the news he was going to The Show.

Jennings was recalled following Friday night's 10-4 loss to the Royals and the 24-year-old outfielder joined the Rays in Kansas City for Saturday night's game.

Jennings got off to a quick start on Saturday in his return, leading off the game with a triple and scoring the game's first run on a single by Ben Zobrist. Jennings added an RBI double in the second, finishing 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and two runs scored.

In Sunday's 5-0 win, Jennings collected two more hits and was hit twice by pitches.

"I didn't know [what was going on after being scratched]," Jennings said. "I was hoping it was something good. I had nine innings to think about it."

Jennings was a September callup last year and played in 17 games. In 89 games for Durham this season, he hit .275 with 12 home runs, 39 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.

Jennings has been highly touted throughout his Minor League career, which prompted many to forecast his arrival coming sooner than it has. To some, such a wait might have been taxing. The unassuming Jennings maintained that he hasn't been frustrated.

"I figured I'd get here when they thought it was time for me to get here," Jennings said.

When asked about the areas where the Rays wanted to see improvement, Jennings answered, "I mean, I need to hit.

"When I got called up here last year I didn't hit too well."

Rays manager Joe Maddon said the Rays simply wanted to see Jennings work better at-bats.

Jennings said he wasn't worried about how those expectations would affect him.

"I just go out and play," Jennings said. "... Just play the game I've been playing forever and go from there."

Rays teammate Johnny Damon understands expectations. He had plenty when he arrived in the Major Leagues with the Royals in 1995.

"Expectations are something you want to meet and exceed," Damon said. "But expectations are always big. You never hear anything, 'This guy is going to be a career .220 hitter.' You hear this guy is going to be an All-Star one day and one of the top players. That's the tough thing. Not everybody can be a star. ... Hopefully it is [Jennings' time], because we need a boost from the offensive side."

Jennings is earmarked to take over as the regular left-fielder for rest of the season, which will mean less playing time for Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano. Playing every day should also help Jennings get into a routine.

"You have a different mindset knowing you're going to be in there every day," said Jennings, noting that being in the lineup every day leads to playing more relaxed.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.