The last step in recovery for injured OF Desmond Jennings, who has been on the disabled list since May 12 with a left knee sprain, will begin today as he starts a scheduled four-game rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Port Charlotte before heading to Triple-A Durham on Friday. Maddon said Jennings could be ready to return to the Tampa Bay lineup by early next week when the Rays travel to New York for a three-game series that begins Tuesday.
"For him, it's just about being on his feet that long (in the rehab games), going from five innings to seven innings to nine innings,'' Maddon said. "Then maybe have to slide, cutting on the bases, etc. Maybe he runs some angles in the outfield, he has to get comfortable with that, too. So he's not far off.''
Jennings went through a series of workouts before Wednesday's game, running the bases without any complications. After going through some start-and-stop drills on the base paths and doing some sliding into bases, Jennings said everything felt fine and he is eager to get back on the field.
Potential dust-up averted
With a potential situation starting to simmer Wednesday afternoon, home plate umpire Mark Wegner defused it all in one swoop.
After White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana threw behind the Rays' Ben Zobrist with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Wegner ejected Quintana from the game. After White Sox manager Robin Ventura came out to ask why his starting pitcher was ejected, Ventura was also thrown out of the game.
The ejections came on the heels of a hard slide by Chicago C A.J. Pierzynski toward Zobrist at second base during Tuesday's game. The Rays appeared to retaliate Wednesday when starter Alex Cobb plunked Pierzynski in the back with a pitch in the third inning with first base open. Though no warnings were issued for that play, Wegner didn't hesitate when Quintana, making his third career start, appeared to throw deliberately at Zobrist.
"When a pitcher throws behind someone like that, it's pretty obvious what their intent was regardless of the denials on the other side,'' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought the home plate umpire did a great job and that really stopped it in its tracks.''
Quintana said through an interpreter he got crossed up on the pitch. Quintana said he was going to throw a fastball, but he saw Pierzynski had called for a change-up. Since he was already winding up, it was too late to switch his grip and the pitched slipped out.
Cobb, who also hit Gordon Beckham with a pitch in the first inning, said there was no intent to hit Pierzynski.
"I was just trying to go fastball in and it got away from me a little bit,'' Cobb said.
Monthly strikeout tally
RHP James Shields finished the month of May with 46 strikeouts, a club record for the month, topping his mark of 42 set last year. The 46 strikeouts in a month is the third most for any month in team history behind Scott Kazmir (50 in August 2007) and David Price (48 in June 2011). Shields also had 46 strikeouts in June 2011, as well as August 2011.
As a staff, Rays pitchers set a team record with 244 strikeouts in May, breaking the previous record of 233 set in June 2007.
1B Carlos Peña and Zobrist have a combined 12 hits in their past 108 at-bats. … The White Sox failed to hit a home run Wednesday, snapping a 15-game streak of at least one home run. … After going 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position Wednesday, Chicago is hitting .462 (30-for-65) with RISP during the past six games and .303 for the month of May.