Desmond Jennings Is Working His Way Back to the Tampa Bay Rays

Jamal Wilburg@JWilburgCorrespondent IMay 31, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 26:  Outfielder Desmond Jennings #8 of the Tampa Bay Rays runs the bases on his way to score in the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels April 26, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Desmond Jennings is one step closer to returning to the Tampa Bay Rays lineup.

The Rays outfielder played five innings with the Class-A Charlotte Stone Crabs. He is scheduled to complete a four-game rehabilitation assignment between Charlotte and Class-AAA Durham Bulls before rejoining the Rays as early as the beginning of next week for the series against the New York Yankees. He was batting .265 with a .333 on-base percentage in the 31 games he appeared in prior to being placed on the disabled list May 12.

His first rehab started looked promising Thursday night. Jennings only hit in his three at-bats was a double and he scored a run in his five innings of play.

In more good news for the team and Rays fans, the Stone Crabs twitter feed tweeted that he looked comfortable running during the game as well.

The Rays have been plagued by injuries early this season losing not only Jennings but also third baseman Evan Longoria and starting pitcher Jeff Niemann and seven other players. Jose Lobaton returned to the team earlier this week and it appears Jennings will follow suit shortly.

The team has had to use a platoon of players to get through the month of May to compensate for the injuries. Somehow they managed to find themselves tied for the division lead with the Baltimore Orioles heading into their head-to-head series this weekend to kickoff the month of June.

Jennings' return would bring back some stability to the lineup as he can return to being the team's leadoff hitter. Also, he would provide additional speed on the base paths and the outfield to add another base-running threat beyond B.J. Upton.

Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

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