Bryce Harper batted seventh in the Nationals’ lineup for each of his first four games, but manager Davey Johnson has decided to promote the 19-year-old to the No. 3 spot tonight.
That’s where the best hitter on the team generally bats and obviously in time the Nationals expect Harper to be that guy, but to be there already in his fifth game is surprising. And rare, too.
The last 19-year-old to bat third in a big-league game? B.J. Upton, who did so once in 2004. And before that it was Andruw Jones in 1996 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.
Something tells me he might not be going back to Triple-A when Ryan Zimmerman returns.
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.