Jennings looking for fresh start with new club

Jennings looking for fresh start with new club

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- For the first time in his professional career, Reds outfielder Desmond Jennings found himself with a new organization.

After being selected by the Rays in the 2006 Draft, going through their system and spending seven big league seasons with Tampa Bay, the end of his time there was marred by injuries, leaving Jennings hoping for a fresh start.

"That's part of moving on, moving on to a new team, new players, new thought process," Jennings said. "I'm here, ready and excited. I'm ready to go."

Jennings, who agreed a Minor League contract on Feb. 9, arrived at Reds camp on Sunday. He was given permission to miss the first couple of days since Thursday's full-squad report to tend to a family matter.

At 30 years old and with lengthy Major League experience, Jennings somewhat stands out in a Cincinnati clubhouse that skews younger. Manager Bryan Price hopes that Jennings, and potentially Ryan Raburn after his signing on Friday, will use that knowledge to help others.

Jennings, who will earn $1.5 million this season if he makes the team out of camp and can earn up to an additional $1 million in incentives for games played, was willing to do that.

Jennings' catch against the wall

"I've been the young guy," Jennings said. "I'm not that old. Playing for the Rays, we always had a young team. Our veterans were like 28 years old. You just have to accept it and roll with it. Hopefully, I can help guys out. I'm sure there are guys that can help me out."

In 2015, left knee injuries -- and later a tooth infection that ended his season -- limited Jennings to just 28 games. During the '16 season, he was bothered by a left knee contusion and a hamstring injury, playing in 65 contests. Jennings batted .200/.281/.350, with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. The Rays released him on Aug. 26.

Jennings, a righty, is a career .245/.322/.393 batter, with 55 homers in 567 games. Against southpaws, he is a .264/.346/.431 hitter compared to .237/.313/.378 versus right-handers.

Jennings has a good chance to make the club because the Reds' bench lacks veterans.

"For me, it's feeling good about him in all three outfield positions," Price said. "I think the value right now, should we start the season healthy and remain healthy, is he's challenging to make the club and give us support in the outfield, and be able to be a guy I'm able to plug in in any position and gives us good quality defense and good quality at-bats in a veteran presence. That's what I'd like to see.

"I know he's missed a lot of time the last couple of years with injuries, but I think a new start with a new organization and an opportunity not having -- we have no preconceived ideas about what he can and can't do. We know he's a solid Major League player and like to think his best years are ahead of him."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.