BALTIMORE -- Desmond Jennings did not start for the fourth consecutive game Wednesday night, but Rays manager Joe Maddon is not panicking about the availability of his left fielder.
Jennings had lower-back pain and missed his first game Saturday against the Rangers. Since then, he has felt better each day.
"He felt really good [Wednesday], did a lot of swinging earlier," Maddon said. "He should definitely be able to pinch-hit tonight if needed. Plan to play tomorrow, not 100 percent sure of that, but I think he'll play tomorrow, and he is available tonight."
Maddon confessed to being "overcautious on our part."
"It's one of those things where he said he feels good, he can play, let's wait one more day," Maddon said.
Maddon was asked if Jennings had been out longer than expected, and he answered, "Not really."
"[Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield has] been telling me, maybe he'd miss all of [the] Baltimore [series]," Maddon said. "Just keep calling it day to day. It just is what it is."
Maddon said the main thing he was concerned about was pushing Jennings and then losing him for a substantial period of time.
"So let's just be cautious," Maddon said. "I like the way Ronnie's handled it. And I think he should be able to start again starting tomorrow."
Maddon wants Jennings to be 100 percent, and that stance was easier to take because Maddon said the Rays have been covered the first two games of the Baltimore series.
"We played these guys yesterday and today, obviously, and the way their pitchers line up vs. our offensive players, we're kind of covered, and we're covered in the position also," Maddon said. "So it wasn't a real urgency to get him back out there. I feel good about Ben [Francisco] out there. I would have felt good about putting Sam [Fuld] out there. But based on the pitching matchups, I wanted to go with Ben yesterday and today."
Pena back in lineup after showing he can beat shift
BALTIMORE -- Carlos Pena was back in the lineup Wednesday night after getting two hits Sunday. Most importantly, those hits went to the opposite field, beating the shift.
Pena has struggled offensively this season in no small part due to the shift employed against him by opposing teams, which have taken away countless hits from the pull-hitting Rays slugger.
Sunday "felt really, really good," Pena said. "The last few days or last week or so, I've been trying to get back to being myself. Or what I call being myself. ... To go back to the simplest form of me that I can remember, and that's what I've been trying to do. That's me right there, hitting a couple of balls the other way, letting the ball get deep in the zone and trusting my hands and trusting my eyes."
Pena said he does better when he is "totally letting go of all thought."
"Just see the ball and trust that my ability will be there," Pena said. "That's the way I used to do it. It was really simple. And that's what I'm trying to get back to, the origins of me. Because I think as you go along and make adjustments, adjustments, adjustments, sometimes they may work and work and work. But every time you do one, you get farther and farther away from home. From the real you, that's a dangerous spot to venture to. Because next thing you know, you will not be able to find your way back."
Rays offering special ticket plan for stretch run
BALTIMORE -- Beginning Wednesday, the Rays are offering a special #162STRONG ticket pack that will run through Sept. 30. It includes:
A ticket to any three of the 10 remaining regular-season home games.
A 10 percent discount on the total ticket price.
A 10 percent discount on day-of-game general concession purchases.
A 25 percent discount on all day-of-game merchandise purchases inside Tropicana Field.
One neon #162STRONG T-shirt per pack purchased.
Packs start at $25 and are available in the Lower Box, Lower Reserved, Press Level, Baseline Box, Outfield, Upper Box and Upper Reserved seating categories.
Full-season ticket holders will be notified via e-mail how they can receive their complimentary #162STRONG T-shirts (subject to availability).
The #162STRONG is a motivational slogan to help support the Rays in their quest for a fourth trip to the postseason in five years.
The special #162STRONG pack is available online at raysbaseball.com, at the Rays Tampa Store, and the Gate 1 Tropicana Field Box Office, as well as over the phone at 888-FAN-RAYS.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.