Marlon Byrd was caught stealing at a rather unfortunate time

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The Cubs trailed the Brewers by one run in the ninth inning yesterday and they got their leadoff man — Marlon Byrd — on base.  And then, with a powerful hitter who had already stroked three doubles on the day at the plate, Byrd was … caught stealing.

Strange play to say the least. Who steals in that situation? So, naturally, the Chicago sporting press asked Byrd about it in the clubhouse after the game:

“Done,” he said. “Beat it. I respect you guys all the time, and we lose a close game like that and that’s the question you ask? Forget it. Beat it.”

What did he expect to be asked?  Allmans vs. Skynyrd?

To be fair to Byrd, he was in a tough spot. Before he told everyone to beat it he reluctantly and obliquely confirmed that he was given the steal sign by third base coach Ivan DeJesus. For his part, manager Mike Quade said that he didn’t put the steal sign on — or at least didn’t think he did — which could be a way of also suggesting that it was DeJesus who gave the sign. It’s entirely possible that DeJesus screwed up and neither his boss nor the player wanted to throw him under the bus. Whatever the case, Byrd is a standup guy who probably would have said so if he was out there freelancing.

All of which, by the way, makes me wonder how this plays out if Mark Cuban’s vision of the future comes to pass and there aren’t any reporters in the clubhouse asking uncomfortable questions. I assume nothing is said by team-controlled media, in which case all of us on the outside are left to assume that either Quade made a boneheaded move or Byrd was trying to spark something, however misguided it was. Then later, Cuban or someone in his position posts something about how everyone’s out to get his guys.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.