Not to be outdone by the Yankees using career-long first baseman Lyle Overbay in right field, the Pirates have catcher Russell Martin in right field tonight against the Braves.
In fairness Martin isn’t a typical catcher in that he’s a good athlete with some speed who’s played 18 games at third base in the majors. With that said, he hasn’t played an inning in the outfield since 2005, when Martin was a 22-year-old at Double-A.
Martin’s usual backup, Michael McKenry, is starting behind the plate and the Pirates’ primary right fielder, left-handed hitter Travis Snider, is on the bench against left-hander Mike Minor.
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.