Outfielder Jennings gets first breather of season

Outfielder Jennings gets first breather of season

ST. PETERSBURG -- Desmond Jennings was out of the starting lineup Monday night for the first time this season, taking a scheduled day off against Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said he would have preferred to give Jennings a full day off, but the 25-year-old outfielder was available off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement if needed.

"I just thought it was time for him," Maddon said. "He's been going after it pretty hard playing both center and left field, diving -- he's been all over the place."

With Jennings on the bench, Maddon chose to bat Ben Zobrist leadoff. Zobrist might not seem ideal for that role given his .213 batting average this season, but his other numbers have been up to par: a .355 on-base percentage due to a team-high 16 walks and a .440 slugging percentage with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBIs.

"I feel good being at the top of the order because I feel like I can get on base for the other guys that are the thumpers, and they're going to bring me in," Zobrist said. "I also enjoy hitting in the middle of the lineup. Wherever Joe has put me, I feel comfortable that I can help the team win."