With no homers and one RBI, Desmond Jennings had suffered from a power outage this spring. That’s over with now, as he unloaded with three homers, the middle one a grand slam, in the Rays’ 8-5 win over the Orioles.
Jennings’ other two homers were solo blasts, giving him six RBI on the day. The first two homers came off Orioles import Wei-Yin Chen. He hit the third against Kevin Gregg.
“I felt good from the first at-bat,” Jennings said. “I felt like I was seeing the ball good and I was swinging at good pitches today. … I was swinging at pitches in the zone and hitting them on the barrel and I was getting to pitches inside. That’s a good sign for me. So hopefully I can keep that up.”
One of the game’s most exciting young players, Jennings hit 22 homers last year, including 10 in 247 at-bats after arriving in the majors. It was a big step up from the three he hit in 420 at-bats in 2010. He probably won’t top that total of 22 in his first full season with the Rays, but 15-18 seems like a reasonable expectation.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”
Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are close to acquiring pitcher Vidal Nuno from the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Ryan Moseley.
Nuno, 29, went to the Dodgers from the Mariners in the Carlos Ruiz trade this past November. He and the Dodgers avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $1.125 million salary for the 2017 season. The left-hander finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.53 ERA and a 51/11 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings spanning one start and 54 relief appearances.
Nuno will provide the Orioles starting pitching depth and could serve as a valuable left-handed option out of the bullpen.
Moseley, 22, played his first season of professional baseball in the New York Penn League last year. In 12 relief appearances, he put up a 3.20 ERA and an 18/9 K/BB ratio across 19 2/3 innings. The Orioles selected him in the eighth round of the 2016 draft.