Nationals call up third catcher Jesus Flores to replace Ryan Zimmerman on roster

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Ryan Zimmerman is headed for the disabled list with an abdominal strain and Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington reports that the Nationals will replace him on the roster with Jesus Flores, which would give them three catchers along with Ivan Rodriguez and Wilson Ramos.

All three guys hit right-handed, so there isn’t really a natural platoon to be formed, and the Nationals have indicated recently that they’re committed to giving Ramos the majority of the action behind the plate because he’s passed Flores as the catcher of the future.

By adding a third catcher it allows manager Jim Riggleman to a) pinch-hit for a catcher without worrying about not having another catcher on the bench, and b) use Rodriguez more often at first base. The first thing is of marginal value and the second thing is of negative value, so while it’s nice to see Flores get back to the majors following two years of shoulder problems the move doesn’t make a ton of sense.

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.