KANSAS CITY -- With Desmond Jennings struggling since returning from the disabled list earlier this month, manager Joe Maddon decided to move the outfielder from his typical leadoff position to the No. 7 spot in the order for Tuesday's game against the Royals.
Jennings, who went 0-for-3 in the Rays' 8-2 loss, has been finding hits elusive since returning on June 5. He's batting .177 with just four extra-base hits, eight RBIs and 22 strikeouts in 20 games this month.
Coming into Tuesday's game, aside from pinch-hitting appearances, Jennings had only batted outside of the leadoff spot three times this season, and those came in the two- and three-holes.
"He's just been off of his game, and I wanted to take a little pressure off of him," Maddon said. "We did the same thing even for one game in the playoffs, remember that, and he came back really well. More than anything, I just think he's off of his game. Just go out there and play. He's trying so hard. He can't try any harder than he is. And he can still be very productive for us from the seven-hole. That's all it is. It's just give a different look and just see if he can get back to his normal self."
Jennings was sidelined for nearly a month with a left knee sprain and had been wearing a protective brace. He's been playing without the brace since Sunday.
"The injury itself probably puts some doubt in his mind. But he came back -- and he is healthy -- but I still believe that there's that thing in the back of your mind, 'Am I completely healthy?' Any time you have to wear an apparatus on your body as you're playing, that's going to create some pause. With him, I think it probably is," Maddon said.
"Although, I had a good talk with him in Philadelphia, and he assured my that he's fine. So, I just thought it was the right time to move him back and just take it off him a little bit. He's going to heat up again, and once he does he's going to lead us to the promised land. Just moving him back for now."