Cardinals likely to start Daniel Descalso at 2B in 2012

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According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak said Saturday that Daniel Descalso is likely to open the 2012 season as the club’s starting second baseman.

Descalso batted .264/.334/.353 with one home run, 20 doubles and 28 RBI in 375 plate appearances this year, making 61 starts at third base, 11 starts at shortstop and nine at second. The athletic 25-year-old has a plus arm and good range, and should be able to meet expectations defensively while growing into an adequate performer at the plate.

In 425 minor league games, Descalso was a .276/.347/.406 hitter and tallied 27 home runs.

The news likely means that Skip Schumaker, who made $2.7 million in 2011, will be non-tendered this winter. If the Cardinals do decide to bring him back, he’ll function as a super utilityman.

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.