Joey Votto returns to Reds' starting lineup Saturday

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Joey Votto is back in the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Padres, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Votto has been out of the lineup for each of the last three games due to a sinus infection, though he did strike out in a pinch-hit appearance against Padres’ closer Heath Bell last night.

“I just hadn’t had an at-bat in a while or hit on the field,” Votto
said. “That type of stuff tends to help. I felt like a fish out of water
there. But I’m sure I will be fine today.”

One of the favorites for the National League MVP award, the 27-year-old first baseman is batting .323/.422/.596 with 35 homers, 106 RBI and a 1.018 OPS this season.

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.