Skip Schumaker merely a fourth outfielder in World Series

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Skip Schumaker started two games at second base in the Cardinals’ NLDS defeat of the Phillies, going 6-for-10 in that five-game series.

But Schumaker missed the NLCS due to an oblique strain and is on the bench for Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night in St. Louis.

According to beat writer Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the media on Wednesday at Busch Stadium that Schumaker is being viewed as more of a fourth outfielder than a second baseman in this seven-game Fall Classic against the Rangers.

He’ll fill the role left vacant by Adron Chambers, who was left off the Cardinals’ World Series roster.

Nick Punto is St. Louis’ best defensive option at second base. And if La Russa wants to switch things up, he’s likely to try Ryan Theriot next. Schumaker, despite his quick recovery, will strictly be a bench guy.

Of course, La Russa could always change his mind mid-series, rendering this entire post moot.

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.