Souza, Jennings among rehabbing Rays

March 4th, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Steven Souza Jr. has resumed baseball activities. He took batting practice and participated in outfield drills on Friday. The Rays outfielder has been slowed by a left intercoastal strain.

"I heard he swung the bat really well," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who did not see Souza swing. "[The] plan for him is the same thing tomorrow."

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When asked, Cash speculated Souza could be playing in games by March 11.

After playing two consecutive games, Desmond Jennings did not travel to Fort Myers for the Rays' 7-2 loss to the Red Sox.

"Desmond, he knows pretty much his schedule," Cash said. "He's playing two days on then two days off. But as far as his plan, he's ready to go. No limitations. We will treat him just as we're getting a lot of guys ready for the Major League season."

Based on Jennings' injury-plagued 2015 campaign, Cash was asked if the Rays planned to be cautious with Jennings this spring.

"I think the first answer is yes, we have to be smart," Cash said. "I don't think cautious is the right word. But we have to be smart and take into account how he's feeling. But we want him to tell us. And Des has been phenomenal this spring as far as communicating.

"And as far as our roster, we talk about the versatility, maybe that allows him to get a blow off his feet. Maybe DH him one day, whatever it is. But we all agree that we're a better team when Desmond Jennings is healthy and on the field for us."

Through two games, Jennings is hitting .750 (3-for-4) with four RBIs. His three doubles are tied for the Major League lead.

Cash said that Steve Pearce is tentatively penciled in as the team's backup to Evan Longoria at third.

Fans can continue to watch for Rays relievers to make multiple-inning appearances. Enny Romero and Matt Andriese have already pitched two-inning stints. The Rays would like to condition their relievers to be able to make multiple-inning appearances this season.

Richie Shaffer got hit by a pitch on his knee in the ninth inning of Friday's loss to the Red Sox, but everything seems to be OK.

"It's like getting hit in the funny bone sort of. I'm fine, it's no big deal," Shaffer said.

Cash complimented rooke right-hander Jacob Faria, who made his first outing of the spring and pitched a scoreless eighth, retiring the Red Sox in order on 10 pitches.

"I thought he looked really good," Cash said. "Very poised. Faria used all of his pitches and pounded the strike zone. Can't ask for more than that."

Said a smiling Faria: "I'm happy with it. I'm really happy."