Batting practice is a big waste of time

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Or so says most major leaguers. The New York Times has a great story about that:

But despite its almost sacred place in the game, there is one little secret about batting practice: many players think it is a colossal waste of time, a mind-numbing, flaw-producing, strategically empty exercise. Eric Chavez of the Yankees is a veteran of 15 years of major league batting practice, but he thinks it has helped him about as much as staring at a wall for an hour.

“B.P. is part of baseball tradition,” Chavez said. “It’s fun for the fans; you try to hit a couple of balls in the stands. But in terms of work, what are you working on? It’s a 30-mile-per-hour pitch.”

But such is the nature of baseball.  There is no sport that comes close to baseball in terms of “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” thinking. Why do batting practice? Because we’ve always done batting practice. Never mind that it’s kind of useless.

If some manager decided to scrap batting practice and did anything other than win the World Series, he’d be crucified. Doesn’t matter what the reason for the losing was, the “he got rid of batting practice!” argument would carry the day. Just ask any manager who tried to do closer by committee or anything else unorthodox about it. You play the non-conformist in baseball at your peril.

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.