Jennings on familiar turf in trip to Kansas City

Jennings on familiar turf in trip to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY -- Marlins reliever Dan Jennings is getting an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family from around the Midwest during this trip to Kauffman Stadium. Jennings attended high school in Des Moines before moving on to the University of Nebraska.

Jennings said his parents, in-laws, wife's grandparents and brother-in-law were taking in parts of the Marlins-Royals series, as well as college friends from Nebraska.

"I don't have quite as many people as when I was in Triple-A and went to play in Des Moines, but still quite a few," Jennings said.

Jennings has particularly fond memories of his college baseball career. He was an under-the-radar lefty who was given the opportunity to join a Cornhuskers program that was churning out currently established Major Leaguers such as Alex Gordon of the Royals, Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and Brian Duensing of the Twins.

Jennings, 26, had some rocky times early at Nebraska and said he thought at one time about giving up the game.

"I had a miserable freshman year," Jennings recalled. "Then, I was absolutely miserable the first half of summer ball. I was ready to hang it up. But I was able to develop a breaking ball and throw a fastball with conviction every single time."

Jennings got progressively better over the next two seasons at Nebraska and used Big 12 competition as a springboard to professional baseball. With his relief work the last two years, Jennings hopes he has laid a foundation to be a prominent member of Miami's bullpen for years to come.

Jennings worked in Monday's series opener and allowed a bloop RBI single by David Lough. But Jennings bounced right back to get hot-hitting Eric Hosmer to ground into a double play.

"I like where this ballclub is heading," Jennings said. "You look around this clubhouse and there are a lot of young guys that know how to play the game the right way. The future is very bright for this organization."

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.