Allen Craig is hitting out of his mind for the Cardinals

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Allen Craig began the season on the disabled list following November knee surgery and returned to an uncertain role when he came off the shelf on May 1, but other injuries have quickly turned him into an everyday player for the Cardinals and he’s absolutely killing the ball.

Craig went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs yesterday, giving him an extra-base hit in eight of his 12 games. He’s now batting .404 with five homers and five doubles in 47 at-bats, posting a .455 on-base percentage and .830 slugging percentage that adds up to a 1.284 OPS.

To put that in some context, Josh Hamilton has a .402 batting average and 1.305 OPS overall this season. I suppose Craig hitting like Hamilton for 12 games is obviously less noteworthy than Hamilton hitting like Craig all season, but either way the Cardinals’ banged-up lineup is being carried by a guy who missed the first two dozen games and was on the DL two weeks ago.

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.