TEX@TB: Beckham tallies first career hit in MLB debut

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays infielder Tim Beckham already got one first out of the way when he collected a hit during his first Major League at-bat Thursday.

The first overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft racked up another Monday when he got his first big league start, playing second base and batting seventh against the Orioles.

Desmond Jennings' right-handed bat was missing from the lineup because of a left hamstring strain, leading manager Joe Maddon to start Beckham. Ben Zobrist, the Rays' everyday second baseman, found himself in left field

Beckham, who is ranked the club's No. 16 prospect, has played in three games off the bench, including Friday's 18-inning contest.

"Timmy has done a nice job at second base when we've thrown him out there," Maddon said. "He does not look taken by the moment. … He was out there for 18 innings. We trusted him then. Let's throw him out there. He has handled the moment well to this point. Zobrist permits all of it to happen with his ability and the way he accepts these kinds of moments."

Beckham started 103 games at shortstop and 15 at second base for Triple-A Durham this season.

Jennings day to day with tight left hamstring

BAL@TB: Jennings injured in sixth, leaves game

ST. PETERSBURG -- After leaving Sunday's 3-1 win over the Orioles in the sixth inning with a tight left hamstring, Desmond Jennings is listed as day to day.

"We don't think it's anything awful," manager Joe Maddon said. "I don't know exactly when we'll get him back out, but again, tomorrow we'll re-evaluate to see where he's at. And we'll see."

Maddon talked to Jennings on Monday.

"He was not overtly sore or hurting at all," Maddon said. "But nevertheless, he did feel something [Sunday]."

Jennings bunted for a hit to lead off the sixth Sunday, but he was quickly pulled after a visit by the team trainers. Sam Fuld entered the game for Jennings and moved to third on a walk and a wild pitch before scoring on Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly.

Jennings did not start Friday night's game due to neck stiffness, but he entered the game in the ninth and eventually scored the winning run in Tampa Bay's 5-4 win over Baltimore in 18 innings. He then played center field on Saturday.

Maddon sounded optimistic Jennings would be back before the regular season ends.

"We'll see," said Maddon, who started Fuld in center on Monday afternoon. "It wasn't awful, like I said. He didn't feel badly coming in today."

Shoulder healthy, Crain activated off disabled list

BAL@TB: Crain warms up, looks forward to Rays debut

ST. PETERSBURG -- Fully recovered from the right shoulder strain that kept him sidelined since he was acquired from the White Sox on July 29, Rays right-hander Jesse Crain was activated from the 60-day disabled listed on Monday.

In a corresponding move, the Rays designated right-hander J.D. Martin for assignment.

Crain, an All-Star selection for the 0.74 ERA he compiled with Chicago, was relieved the rehab process is over.

"It really has been a long time coming," Crain said. "I'm real excited to be able to go out there and see where I'm at, jump back into things. There was a time where I had a setback and I wasn't sure [if I would pitch again this season]. My arm wasn't responding as I hoped or thought it would. … [Head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield] never let me get my feelings down, and it worked out."

Crain joins a bullpen that used five members to hold the Orioles to just three hits Sunday. Overall, Tampa Bay leads the American League with an opponents' batting average of .240.

"To have that solid group of guys out there takes some pressure off of me," Crain said. "If I struggle a little bit, I'll have a guy who can come in and get the job done. Hopefully I can jump right in and join the success they've had."

Letting ball travel key for Lobaton throwing out runners

BAL@TB: Lobaton throws out Jones to end the third

ST. PETERSBURG -- Catcher Jose Lobaton ended a personal drought in Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Orioles.

Opposing runners had stolen 22 consecutive bases off Lobaton before he threw out Adam Jones trying to steal second base in the third inning.

"I'd been frustrated about that," Lobaton said.

Lobaton worked with catching instructor Jaime Nelson and fellow backup catcher Chris Gimenez on Friday to get a better handle on his mechanics.

"I asked them what they see, and they say it's my transfer. I'm trying to reach for the ball. I'm not waiting for the ball," Lobaton said. "So I told Chris and Nellie, 'Let's work on it.' That day we worked [on it] a lot."

Gimenez said the secret is "letting the ball travel."

"It doesn't really sound like it would be true, but you're a lot faster the further you let the ball travel," said Gimenez, who demonstrated the motion. "You have to wait for the ball. The [quicker] we can get the ball in our hand to throw it, the faster our time's going to be to second base."

Lobaton had a good feeling about his chances as soon as he took the ball from his glove.

"I knew I had a chance to make a good throw," Lobaton said. "I think if you keep working on something and you repeat and you repeat, something good is going to happen. That was awesome. I was not surprised. That's what I was waiting for. That was a good step for me."

Gimenez was the first of Lobaton's teammates to congratulate him when he returned to the dugout.

"I told him, 'That was perfect,'" Gimenez said. "I was super happy for him."