Jennings still has a lot to offer Rays

Outfielder enters 2016 with clean bill of health

Jennings still has a lot to offer Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Desmond Jennings went missing from the Rays' lineup due to injuries in 2015.

Just don't count him out from this year's outfield picture too early. The Rays feel he still has a lot to offer.

Jennings was limited to just 28 games last season due to left-knee injuries that required two trips to the disabled list, and later a tooth infection caused a premature end to his season.

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The way Jennings' 2015 season went down fueled offseason speculation that the Rays would trade him. Pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Sunday, and Jennings remains a part of the team, though, and is very much a part of the equation.

Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash are both excited about having a healthy Jennings ahead of the 2016 season.

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"Desmond's in a good spot," Cash said. "We all know it was a trying season for him, between the knee, and at the end of the year with the tooth, the infection. That caused a considerable amount of pain.

"But seeing him at the Trop the other day, Desmond appeared as though he'd lost a couple of pounds -- not that he needed to, but being smart about the work load on his legs, he seemed to be very eager to come in and work."

Jennings hit .268 with a home run and seven RBIs in 2015.

"We only saw him briefly, but when we did, he can really impact our club in a lot of positive ways," Cash said.

Jennings' RBI single

In parts of six Major League seasons, Jennings has hit .249 with 48 home runs and 171 RBIs, and he's stolen 93 bases in 502 games.

"He's incredibly talented," Silverman said. "When he's on the field. He's got a chance to be the best player on the field. We see him healthy, and it's been good to see him at the Trop. He should be full go this year. [He should] add a dynamic element to our lineup and our outfield."

The Rays' outfield situation looks competitive heading into Spring Training with Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr., Brandon Guyer, and Mikie Mahtook all returning. The team has also added Corey Dickerson, Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce, who all look to be a part of the outfield equation.

Silverman allowed that a deal might be made to add clarity to the situation. He has noted that should all of the group be healthy at the end of Spring Training, the Rays will have too many players in their outfield.

For the time being, a healthy Desmond Jennings and a host of outfield candidates is a good thing for the team, though.

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