Don’t taunt Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper is still a work in progress. He should spend the whole season in the minors and likely will barring some gimmick callup at the end of the year to goose attendance.  But even if he needs to work on messing with ungodly major league offspeed stuff, he already knows how to quiet the haters:

With Harper at the plate, one fan in the stands yelled, “Overrated, overrated.” On the next pitch from reliever Jorge De Leon, Harper doubled near the right-field line, scoring Matt Stairs and Alex Cora.

Harper acknowledged that he heard the heckling from the fan.

Not that this sort of behavior is limited to phenoms like Harper.  When I was in Phoenix last week watching the A’s vs. the Indians, Chad Huffman came to bat for the Tribe.  One of the many mouthy A’s fans sitting near the press box yelled “Who the hell is that? You’ll be in Columbus all year, Chaddy!”  Huffman then proceeded to hit a double off the wall.

I love it when that stuff happens.

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.