Sizemore to bat No. 2 this season

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Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com passes along news from SportsTime Ohio (STO) that Grady Sizemore will bat No. 2 this season and Asdrubal Cabrera will lead off.

According to the STO report, new manager Manny Acta told Sizemore that the decision was made in order to take advantage of his power and run producing ability. He told Sizemore the Indians could get much more out of him this way since he bats roughly 150 times without anybody on base out of the No. 1 spot. Anybody who reads this blog knows that we’re a fan of Acta’s sabermetric leanings, although it didn’t lead to success in Washington.

Sizemore, who underwent surgeries to repair his left elbow and abdominal wall last September, had 109 at-bats out of the two-spot last season, but has been the primary leadoff hitter for Cleveland since the 2005 season. 2753 of his 3131 career at-bats have come out of the No. 1 spot in the order.

Cabrera isn’t exactly the on-base machine that Sizemore is, but he’s close, posting on-base percentages of .354 (2007), .346 (2008) and .361 (2009) over his first three seasons in the majors. He put together a .301/.340/.459 batting line in 131 at-bats out of the leadoff spot last season while Sizemore battled injuries and ineffectiveness.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.