Jose Bautista came late to stardom, but he pitched a fit any diva would have been proud of after getting fanned by the Rays’ James Shields for the third time tonight.
Bautista yelled at home-plate umpire Bill Welke, took his bat to the dugout wall and threw his bat and helmet onto the field after being tossed from the game in the sixth inning. He had struck out in all three of his plate appearances.
Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune points out that Shields became the first pitcher since Felix Hernandez on Sept. 24, 2009 to strike out Bautista three times in a game.
Bautista, a top candidate for AL MVP honors, entered the night with a .317 average, 37 homers and 82 RBI. He had 83 strikeouts and 105 walks in 117 games.
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.