For the past several years when a ball was hit to center field against the Tampa Bay Rays, you could count on B.J. Upton to be there. Now with Upton having signed with the Atlanta Braves, the Rays have to hope the move to center will be a good and productive one for Desmond Jennings. While it is impossible to tell how exactly he will perform during the heat of the season, this spring suggests that he will be more than fine.
Jennings isn’t the exact same type of player Upton was for the Rays. He will hit fewer homers but score more runs and steal more bases. He can hit really well from the leadoff spot in the order and is good at setting the table for those behind him. All signs this spring are good. He looks as on top of his game as ever and is seemingly ready to go. It’s still relatively early March but sometimes you love to see hitters tear it up early.
To say that the Rays might be helped to forget Upton might be a stretch though. They are getting a good replacement that they already knew but he is a different player. They will be happy with Jennings but still miss Upton if someone doesn’t step up to get the homers and RBI that they now miss. Jennings should be a good replacement for Upton in every other way.