PORT CHARLOTTE (AP) — Sure, Desmond Jennings wants to see more pitches per at-bat. Yes, he'd like to take more walks this season. And maybe this is the year he finally masters the bunt.
But the Tampa Bay Rays center fielder and leadoff man sees his job as a simple one: get on base.
He did that two more times on a Monday night, but the Minnesota Twins rallied to tie it in the ninth then won it in the 10th inning, 6-4 Monday night.
Jennings scored the game's first run when he doubled to left-center in the first and came around on a double by Evan Longoria. Perhaps more impressive was Jennings' turn at plate leading off the bottom of the third. After failing to get down a bunt on the first pitch, he worked the count full before walking.
With six free passes in 25 plate appearances, Jennings has an on base percentage over .500.
"I'm just trying to swing at strikes," said Jennings, back in the lineup and at full speed after tweaking his ankle on the bases Saturday. "I'll take my walks all day. My goal is to get on base — do whatever I can to get on base and try to zone the pitcher in on balls over the plate."
Jennings was known for his plate discipline in the minor leagues and his early stints with the Rays. But he walked only 46 times last year and his on-base percentage plummeted to .314 in his first full season with the major league club.
That won't cut it for the top of the order. He knows he needs to find ways to get on base in front of bats like Longoria's. He'll even try a bunt now and then.
The new approach is working. He's not just walking but seeing better pitches to hit after working the count.