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Fay: Why Desmond Jennings is a pretty good bet to make the Reds

Fay: Why Desmond Jennings is a pretty good bet to make the Reds
Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-19 13:47:12-05

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Desmond Jennings is one of those guys the Reds added by shopping late in the free agent season.

Jennings signed the day pitchers and catchers reported. Jennings, for his part, was shopping for a chance to play.

“The opportunity,” he said, when asked what attracted him to the Reds. “The opportunity to play. I played against this organization coming up in the minor leagues. It’s always good. It always looked like they were having fun playing a game. And it’s a good team and players, I’m excited.”

He’s in camp on a minor league contract, but he’s a pretty good bet to make the team. He has five years of big league experience, all with Tampa Bay.

Reds manager Bryan Price would prefer bench players with experience.

“If you look and you've got whoever's not catching and maybe four position players that are used to playing every day in the minor leagues,” Price said, “that's a tough way to go, to hand those guys some of the toughest at-bats of the game against the best pitchers in the seventh inning on. I'd like to have some experience on the bench, if possible.”

Jennings, 27, hit .200 with seven home runs and 20 RBI in 200 at-bats for the Rays last year. He was a regular for the Rays from 2012-14. He hit .248 and averaged 12 homers and 22 steals in those years.

He was limited to 28 games in ’15 by knee injuries and was twice on the DL last year with hamstring injuries.

“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, a right-handed hitter, can play any of the three outfield positions.

“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 any position, and gives us good quality defense and good quality at-bats in a veteran presence,” Price said. “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.”

TRYOUT: The Reds don’t exactly hold open tryouts, but they will bring in a player on occasion. Robert Stock, a converted catcher who played at Southern Cal, threw for the brass Saturday and was good enough they signed him.

"Those guys quite often are impressive,” Price said. "We’ve seen success with (Troy) Percival and (Jason) Mott and some of these guys. Shoot, Kenley Jansen. They know how to get their arms up into good leverage position to throw and typically have arm strength if they’re catching. Sounds like he was a pretty impressive kid.”

Stock, 27, is former second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched last year in Independent ball.