Bryce Harper plays left field, goes 2-for-3 in Double-A debut

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Batting sixth and playing an unfamiliar left field, Bryce Harper went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored Monday in his debut for Double-A Harrisburg.

The Senators ended up beating Erie 8-1 in front of a record crowd of 8,092.  The previous high crowd at Metro Bank Park was 8,078 for last year’s All-Star Game.

Harper hit third and played right field and center field for low Single-A Hagerstown prior to his promotion, so Monday was quite a change for him.  It was his first time in left field as a pro.

Harper, of course, immediately became the prospect on the Senators’ roster with his promotion, overtaking right-hander Brad Peacock and catcher Derek Norris.  However, it was the other two who truly shined Monday.  Peacock pitched six scoreless innings for the win, striking out nine, and Norris hit his 11th and 12th homers of the 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.