Dustin Ackley to bat seventh in major league debut tonight

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The future is nigh.

2009 No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley will make his major league debut against the Phillies a little over two hours from now. And according to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the 23-year-old second baseman will bat seventh.

I know, I know. While it’s tempting to lose it over Ackley batting seventh, it would be unfair to install him as the No. 2 hitter right out of the gate, especially with Roy Oswalt on the hill for the Phillies. Granted, Oswalt hasn’t been himself lately, but that’s no easy task, even for someone with a polished approach like Ackley. Let’s not cast him as the lineup’s savior.

Ackley had a .421 on-base percentage with Triple-A Tacoma and compiled a ridiculous 117/130 K/BB ratio over 918 plate appearances in the minor leagues, so it won’t be long before he’s the No. 2 hitter behind Ichiro. It might not happen tomorrow or even next week, but it will happen soon enough.

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.