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05/22/07 10:19 PM ET
Jennings fights control in rehab outing
Starter's elbow feels fine, expected to rejoin Astros next week
By Michael Point / Special to MLB.com
ROUND ROCK, Texas -- The second and final phase of Jason Jennings' Minor League rehab stint didn't exactly live up to his expectations as he labored through control problems in 3 1/3 innings, giving up four earned runs in the process. "It wasn't great, but it was OK," he said afterward. "I wasn't hitting spots like I needed to, and that was the main problem. I definitely wasn't as sharp as I was in Corpus Christi." Jennings, on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis since April 9, threw 54 pitches Thursday in a Double-A start for the Corpus Christi Hooks, allowing only three hits and one walk in a scoreless five-inning stint. This time, the numbers weren't as impressive as he threw only 42 strikes in a 76-pitch start that was undermined by five walks. "I wasn't missing by much," Jennings said, "but it meant I had to work a lot harder than I should have. I'm satisfied with how I threw all my pitches and I feel fine physically, but my command was just a little off." Round Rock staked him to a 3-0 lead in the first inning as leadoff hitter Chris Burke, playing second base for the game, singled, stole second and came around to score. Singles by Danny Klassen and Eric Bruntlett and a bases-loaded walk helped pad the lead. Jennings started strong, getting two quick strikes on leadoff hitter Eric Patterson before coaxing a popup from him and striking out Felix Pie on four pitches. After giving up a walk, he got a lineout to end the inning, having thrown 17 pitches. Jennings improved in the second inning, retiring the side on 11 pitches with a leadoff strikeout and two easy groundouts. But control issues popped up in the third as he walked three batters, including the opposing pitcher, and surrendered a soft single to center field for his first hit allowed. The Cubs, however, managed only one run on a warning-track sacrifice fly. The pitch count mounted in the third inning as he threw 29 pitches with only 13 being for strikes. Round Rock manager Jackie Moore removed him after one out in the fourth. Reliever Miguel Asencio, the other player procured in the trade with the Rockies, came in and made Jennings' pitching line look worse than it really was as he gave up a three-run home run. Jennings, who was also disappointed that he botched a potential double play on a ground ball to the mound, did have one positive highlight for the evening. He singled through the right side of the infield to lead off the second in his only plate appearance of his two rehab appearances. Despite the shaky outing, Jennings remains on schedule to return to the Astros. "I'm supposed to join the team in Arizona and possibly pitch [next] Tuesday," he said.
Michael Point is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.