Jennings reports to camp noticeably lighter

Speedy outfielder plans to swipe more bases, aims for injury-free season

Jennings reports to camp noticeably lighter

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings isn't saying anything. He doesn't have to. Jennings' body is doing all the talking, and his body is saying the speedy outfielder intends to run more this season.

Jennings arrived to the Rays' camp on Tuesday noticeably lighter than last season, when he showed up looking considerably larger than past seasons. He allowed that he is lighter this spring. As far as the difference in pounds, that's another story.

"It's a secret," Jennings said. "Can't let you know my secrets. ... I've been training. I've been hitting. Working hard the whole offseason. Trying to figure out a way to stay on the field for a full season. Do what I can to get better and to help this team."

Jennings stole just 15 bases last season, his lowest total since he arrived full time to the Major Leagues in 2012. Jennings won't fess up that his motivation for shedding pounds is to run more this season, and the club said that they did not ask him to come to camp lighter.

"I wanted to run more last year," said Jennings, who missed the last month of the season due to a bruised left knee. "It just got to a point where I really couldn't. I want to run every time, so we'll see."

Jennings believes he will be a part of a Rays offense capable of creating runs with its speed.

"I feel like we have plenty of speed on the team," Jennings said. "And we have plenty of guys who can create [things] with their legs. ... Hopefully we get to the point where the offense can carry the pitching sometimes instead of the pitching always carrying the offense."

Given the Rays' outfield picture, which includes the likes of Jennings, Brandon Guyer, Kevin Kiermaier, David DeJesus and Steven Souza Jr., flexibility will be a big part of what manager Kevin Cash counts on when making out his lineups this season. In that scenario, there's a chance that Jennings might be in the lineup in left field on occasion.

Jennings didn't blink when asked about the prospect of playing some left field.

"Whatever they feel will help the team, I'm all for it," Jennings said. "I just want to play. I played left before and feel like I played it well. I have no problem with it."

The biggest thing for Jennings will be staying on the field this season. He played in just 123 games in 2014.

"I feel good," Jennings said. "I took the time I needed to take and I feel good."

Will 2015 be the year he finally experiences an injury-free season?

"Every year I feel like that," Jennings said. "I want to put myself into a position where I think this is going to be the year. ... Everything's fine now. Knee's good. I'm ready to go."

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