Orioles lose Brian Roberts to abdominal strain

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Brian Roberts, who had to overcome a back injury to open the season on time, was forced from Friday afternoon’s game against the Blue Jays due to a strained abdominal muscle.
It’d be a big blow if the Orioles lost their second baseman for any length of time, though they are better covered now with recent acquisition Julio Lugo as their utilityman than they were with last year’s backup, Robert Andino.
Before the Lugo trade, it looked like Justin Turner would be the choice to fill in if Roberts’ back injury was going to limit him past Opening Day. The 24-year-old hit .300/.362/.388 with just 37 strikeouts in 387 at-bats for Triple-A Norfolk last season, and he impressed this spring by going 11-for-32 with a homer and seven RBI. Lugo is probably the better choice to start at the moment, but Turner would be in line for the callup if Roberts lands on the DL.

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.