Brewers bench Corey Hart for Jim Edmonds

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Not only did Jim Edmonds earn a spot on the Brewers at age 39 after sitting out all of last season, he’s in their Opening Day lineup starting in place of Corey Hart in right field and batting fifth behind Prince Fielder.
Hart was brutal this spring, batting 11-for-64 (.172) with 18 strikeouts while Edmonds went 14-for-48 (.292) with two homers and four doubles, and getting an extra left-handed bat into the lineup against Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez no doubt played a part in manager Ken Macha’s decision as well.
During his career Jimenez has held righties to a .220 batting average and .624 OPS compared to a .248 batting average and .715 OPS from lefties. Similarly, over the past three seasons Hart has an .861 OPS against lefties compared to .778 against righties, and prior to sitting out last year Edmonds posted a robust .882 OPS versus righties in 2008.
In other words, starting Edmonds over Hart in right field today probably gives the Brewers a slightly better chance to beat Jimenez and the Rockies, but given that Hart has been their everyday right fielder for the past three years and Edmonds didn’t play at all in 2009 it certainly qualifies as an Opening Day surprise by Macha.

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.