Left fielders stepping up for Rays

Left fielders stepping up for Rays

Left fielders stepping up for Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Manny Ramirez abruptly retired in April after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, he left a question mark in left field.

Joe Maddon and the Rays lucked out with the early emergence of Sam Fuld, and most recently with Desmond Jennings bursting onto the scene. Justin Ruggiano has also spent time in left field.

"The way Sam stepped in there, it made it easier at that particular point," Maddon said. "We didn't know where Desmond was going to be at that time of the year regarding the season. We didn't know exactly what we had in Sam at that particular juncture either. Sam turned into a nice Plan B, especially at the beginning of the year."

With the emergence of Jennings, Fuld has only started 10 of the past 41 games. Fuld leads the American League with six pinch-hits.

Jennings' production has cooled off a bit after he batted .324 in his first 39 games. In his last nine games, the rookie has gone 4-for-35 without an extra-base hit, dropping his season average to .303.

"It's hard to maintain the pace that he was on," Maddon said. "He's seen some good pitching lately, too. I think he had some good at-bats [Tuesday]. He hit some balls pretty good. It was just at people, and that's going to happen also."