Dodgers tab Clayton Kershaw as Opening Day starter

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From Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

Clayton Kershaw will be the Dodgers’ opening-day starter for the third consecutive year, Manager Don Mattingly announced Saturday.

The Dodgers start their season on April 1 against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

It was a no-brainer for Mattingly, even though the Dodgers front office inked a record six-year, $147 million free agent contract with right-handed starter Zack Greinke this offseason.

Kershaw posted a dominant 2.53 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 229/63 K/BB ratio over 227 2/3 innings last summer. The 24-year-old left-hander is currently scheduled to hit the free agent market following the 2014 campaign.

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.