Jennings strong enough to pinch-hit

Jennings strong enough to pinch-hit

Jennings strong enough to pinch-hit
NEW YORK -- Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings entered Wednesday's 4-1 win over the Yankees as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, returning to action after a left knee sprain had sidelined him since he exited Sunday's game after the second inning.

Batting for Elliot Johnson with runners on the corners and Tampa Bay trailing, 1-0, Jennings flied out to left field to end the inning.

Before the game, neither Jennings nor Rays manager Joe Maddon could be sure when the outfielder would make his way back to the field.

"I feel like very soon," Jennings said. "I can't point out the day. It feels all right. ... I feel like I'm very close to playing."

Jennings has been fitted for a brace, which will take some getting used to for the speedster.

"Yeah, it's different," Jennings said. "I'm not used to wearing a brace, but if it's going to help me go out there and play, it's something I'll have to do."

Prior to his club's series opener in New York on Tuesday, Maddon said that Jennings might be used as a pinch-hitter during the three-game set and that if Jennings reached base, Maddon would likely pinch-run for him. Jennings did not remember being lifted for a pinch-runner at any stage during his career. When that possibility was mentioned, Jennings smiled.

"I probably would have tried to stay out there," Jennings said. "I don't think I could come out for a pitcher. I'd rather Joe come out there and run for me than a pitcher."