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Rays promote Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham

Jul 22, 2011, 11:11 PM EDT

Desmond Jennings AP

12:00 a.m. EDT update: Upton is staying put for now.  The Rays announced after the game that Jennings was being called up, but that he’d be taking shortstop Reid Brignac‘s spot.  Brignac, whose demotion was long overdue, hit just .193/.234/.219 in 187 at-bats and was losing playing time at shortstop to Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.  Jennings will get starts in left while the Rays figure out what they’re doing with Upton.  Sam Fuld will lose some playing time, and Ben Zobrist figures to be used pretty strictly as a second baseman.

11:30 p.m. EDT update: Durham Bulls writer Adam Sobsey confirms that Jennings has been recalled by the Rays.  That doesn’t necessarily mean Upton is a goner — the Rays could use Jennings in left field — but the trade possibility remains very much alive.

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It sounds like the Rays have made a move, as they just pulled B.J. Upton from the game against the Royals and they scratched Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham’s lineup.

Washington has been the most common landing spot for Upton in trade rumors.

Upton was 1-for-4 tonight before being removed.  He’s been playing well of late, having hit .270/.333/.429 with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games this month.  The Nationals have long coveted him to fill their hole in center field, and the 26-year-old is under control through 2012.

His replacement in center field with the Rays would be Jennings, who recently returned from a finger injury.  He’s hit .286/.426/.510 in 13 games this month and .275/.374/.456 overall for Durham.

Update: For what it’s worth, it’s possible we’re overreacting here.  The Rays were down by six runs and had already removed Matt Joyce from the contest.  Upton also could have been due a little rest, considering he had started every game since the break.  Still, there is a little evidence that something is going on.  Draysbay.com reports that Jennings was seen signing something in the managers office at Triple-A Durham before tonight’s game.

  1. largebill - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Those of us with Upton in AL only leagues are not liking the sound of that potential move. Keep him in the AL!

    • natstowngreg - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM

      Those of us in NL-only leagues with outfield needs would respectfully disagree.

  2. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Interesting. His brother seems to be panning out a tad more that BJ, but loads of potential non the less.

  3. natstowngreg - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Bill Ladson, MLB.com’s Nats reporter, suggests Rizzo would love to have Upton. Ian Desmond is mentioned as someone the Rays might want.

    http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110722&content_id=22146344&notebook_id=22160026&vkey=notebook_was&c_id=was

    Don’t know about that; Desmond has been playing some good defense. In any event, he’s playing tonight. Of course, no announcement yet, and none likely until the Nats-Dodgers game ends. That is, if the deal is Upton to the Nats.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:41 PM

      I say something nice about Desmond’s defense, and he makes 2 errors in one inning.

  4. entersandman42ny - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:27 PM

    BJ Upton had that big playoff run a couple of years ago when he hit the cover off the ball but hasn’t lived up to the hype since. He has great speed and is a very good defensive center fielder, but he strikes out a lot and doesn’t hit for an average. I do like his power/speed combination but I wouldn’t give up the farm to trade for him. I guess the Rays are content with being the third best team in the AL East because they keep trading guys like Garza & Upton because they are “too expensive” approaching their arbitration or contract years. They think they can just keep plugging less experienced, less talented players to fill the holes left behind, but eventually it will catch up to them because they will keep trading away top talent.

    • cosanostra71 - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:57 PM

      the Rays are losing money- fans don’t even come to their games. They play in the worst ballpark in the MLB and perhaps the worst venue in North American professional sports. I know it sounds crazy, but those players ARE too expensive for them. Which is a shame, because they have put together some really talented squads the last few years.

    • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 4:43 AM

      The Rays have won the division 2 of the last three years. That’s more than the Sox and Yanks combined. Do a google search next time before you talk about what the Rays are and arent content with. And Garza was replaced with Hellickson, not a plug in, a stud. That trade netted 3 top 50 players plus super Sam Fuld. It was a great move.

      • entersandman42ny - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:32 AM

        Sam Fuld sucks. As much as ESPN and other networks have hyped Fuld for what he did in April, he is hitting in the low .200s. Yes they won the division the two years prior to this year, but that was before they started trading their top talent and how many rings did they win?

      • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

        Sam Fuld is what they thought he was. A defensive replacement. The fact that he hit .360 and stole 11 bases for a month was a hell of a plus. The guy covers as much ground as anyone in the league, and has made spectacular catch after spectacular catch. As a 7th inning replacement, his value is vastly underrated.

  5. macjacmccoy - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:47 PM

    i dunno there are other teams looking for outfield help. Giants, Phillies, Braves to name a few.

  6. killabri - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Per Marc Topkins (Rays beat writer) Twitter…

    #Rays Upton just said he has NOT been traded. No word on move yet, but Brignac was in Maddon’s office

    And it appears now as I type this that the Rays have optioned Reid Brignac to Durham and called up Desmond Jennings. However, that said… optioning a shortstop and replacing him with an outfield doesn’t make sense. The Rays could very well have pulled Upton from the game if they got close enough to trading him that they felt like a deal was going to occur soon. The other team could have demanded it.

    Upton remains with the Rays, for now.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM

      Nice reporting. Thanks.

    • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 4:50 AM

      The replaced an infielder with an outfielder because they only carry 4 outfielders. Joyce is banged up. Zobrist will likely just play second now, not platoon right/second.

      Jennings is a welcome sight for a Rays fan. I was wondering how long they would plug along with the Sam Fuld/Ruggiano experiment.

    • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 4:50 AM

      They replaced an infielder with an outfielder because they only carry 4 outfielders. Joyce is banged up. Zobrist will likely just play second now, not platoon right/second.

      Jennings is a welcome sight for a Rays fan. I was wondering how long they would plug along with the Sam Fuld/Ruggiano experiment.

  7. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Why was Upton pulled then? Seems quite suspicious. Something is definitely up. A deal with somebody must be close.

    • killabri - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:32 AM

      Yeah, the Rays’ roster right now has 5 actual outfielders on it (Upton, Fuld, Ruggiano, Joyce, and now Jennings) and, if you include Damon and Zobrist, they have a total of 7 people who could play in the outfield. That is obviously way too many and in any case another roster move has to be made. Moving Upton would accommodate that and give the Rays some roster flexibility.

      As to why Upton was yanked, nobody has a real clear answer on that yet. The Nationals are still involved in their ballgame with the Dodgers, so perhaps the clubs are waiting for the Nats game to end to announce a deal? Even if that were the case, you’d think BJ Upton would have been told he was traded.

      Whether it happens tonight or in the coming days, BJ Upton will be moved. It’s just a matter of where he goes. And for God sake, hopefully he brings us back a shortstop who can play a little ball.

      • killabri - Jul 23, 2011 at 12:33 AM

        No edit feature, so to clarify one part of my above comment… the Nationals were heavily rumored to be a destination for BJ Upton.

      • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 4:57 AM

        sub .200 shortstop. Sub .200 catcher. First baseman with 28 RBI. We need help Friedman. Pull the trigger.

      • hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:49 AM

        Both Fuld and Ruggiano would have to clear waivers, while Brignac won’t. He is the only one they could option to the minors without losing the player. I think people are over thinking this move. Desmond is ready for the show, and the Rays need a left fielder. If Upton is traded, I doubt it will come during the weakest 10 day stretch of season. If they have lost ground on the 31st, clean out your locker BJ.

  8. flpunx - Jul 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Hittfamily – be fair to Kotchman. The Rays stuck with Charlie Brown (Dan Johnson) far too long this season, and look at who Casey has been following in the lineup. I am not going to sit here and say 28 RBI’s is going to save us, but come on – anyone filling in at first can’t fill Pena’s shoes, even if he was hitting .180 the second half of last season. The catcher and shortstop – yes. Although I do have to say at least Johnson seems to be trying at the plate, and Brignac just looked lost this season. He seemed to be taking bating lessons from Upton. Be fair to Kotchman. He’s a hometown kid and I would personally love to see him stick around for a few years. The Rays really just need more consistent offense, and someone to help out Longo, since we;ve now seen for 2 years what happens to his head at the plate when he feels like he has to carry the team by himself.

  9. hittfamily - Jul 23, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    I am a fan of Kotchmann. Hell, he’s arguably the offesive MVP this season. My pointing out his 28 RBIs was a shot at this pathetic offense more than a shot at him. He has been a savior this year. If he goes down, Johnny Damon becomes our first baseman, because we have no one at any level. It was a cheap shot, but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it the other day. I wanted to know how man at bats Kotchmann needed to get into league leader categories, so I looked up his stats. .331 avg, .854 ops, 275 at bats…….29 rbis. I couldnt believe it. What a terrible offense we have that he doesnt have more. He has 25 extra base hits, which is below average for a first baseman, but not bad. His .850 ops is amazing for a guy with 4 hr. He definately is not the weak link in this offense.

    With that said, we wont be able to upgrade in center, right, 2nd, or third. We have a ton of outfielders who are almost major league ready to upgrade left field next year. Our DH is our most expensive player. A well hitting, available SS and C are expensive. That leaves first base as the most reasonable choice. If I had my way, as slick of a fielder as Kotchmann is, I’d try him at second, Zobrist to the OF, and try to get Yonder Alonso for Niemann, or Alonzo and their top rated catcher for Shields. (Just an idea, I havent heard any buzz)

    I dont think we move Upton. They have been saying it for years. If we do, it is because we acquired Rasmus+ for Shields. We won’t trot out an outfield of Sam Fuld, Desmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce 5.5 games out of the wild card.

    Our best hitter has 29 rbis. ****ing pathetic!!!

    Next time reply to my post so I know you responded to me :)

    • flpunx - Jul 23, 2011 at 8:55 PM

      Yeah – it has definitely been a frustrating season thus far for us Rays fans. I haven’t thought BJ was worth the trouble for a few seasons now, and I’m tired of hearing every spring training how much Maddon believes in him and sees this tremendous upside. I mean, yes, I can’t argue with him offensively since he is leading the team in HR’s and RBI’s, but his consistency at the plate has ALWAYS been an issue. Even in the 08 postseason when he tricked a lot of people into believing in his future. Defensively, he is sick. If he just hustled 100% of the time instead of dogging it when he doesn’t feel like playing, he could be an all star center fielder.

      That being said, I agree that we probably don’t deal him. As much as I don’t want to see Juego G sent packing, he is the player that would get the most in return right now. I would love to see a catcher that could actually hit as well as a more consistent BA out of a middle infield. All in all, I think they can still make a run at the wild card, but they have to do something NOW to spark this anemic offense. Longo, leave the gloves off. We need an actual lead off hitter (possibly Jennings) and DH, not Johnny Damon who has been occupying 2 separate roles. Don’t get me wrong I love Damon and what he has been doing this year, but we need a lead off hitter to get aboard and a DH to drive a couple of runs in a night. I just don’t see too many afordable options, and being a Rays fan, I know it all comes down to affordability.

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