Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
Desmond Jennings is ready to play. He’s optimistic about the season. He thinks this will be the year that everything comes together.
Jennings, 29, played in only 28 games last year. But general manager Matt Silverman has said that anytime Jennings is on the field, he has a chance to be the best player there. So once again, the Rays are caught between hope and expectations.
“Every year, I come into camp thinking that,” Jennings said. “This is going to be my year, every year. But you have to play. Regardless of what your mindset is, you still have to go out and play the game, and in order to play, you have to actually be physically healthy and ready to play. I feel good this year. Hopefully I can maintain that and go from there.”
The Rays go into the season hoping that Jennings can be healthy and can fit in with Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza.
“I was frustrated with a lot of things. I was frustrated with myself, frustrated with everything, just being hurt. I am not thinking about it now, ready to get back on the field and start playing baseball again.”
His teammates would like to see that, too.
“Injury is the worst thing for a career — it’s definitely eye-opening when you’ve never been there,” Evan Longoria told the Tampa Bay Times. “My hope for him is that it was eye-opening enough to where he comes back hungry. That he realizes that there is not infinite opportunity. The door is not going to be open for you in this game for very long if you don’t perform.
“I hope he’s hungry. I hope he’s gotten his body ready and gotten past all of the issues that he had last year. He can definitely help us. A healthy Desmond Jennings when he’s been on the field, he makes an impact. We could use that.”