Jason Heyward leaves game with strained right hamstring

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Troubling development for the first-place Braves, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Jason Heyward left tonight’s game against the Reds with a strained right hamstring.

After reaching on an infield single with two outs in the second inning, Heyward was advancing to third base on a single by Justin Upton before he hurt himself on a slide into the bag. The 23-year-old outfielder grabbed at his hamstring while laying on the ground before eventually getting to his feet and walking off under his own power. He’s scheduled to be reevaluated tomorrow, but it certainly looked like something that could require a trip to the disabled list.

Heyward has had a disappointing first half, batting .223/.321/.367 with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 67 games. He was previously sidelined from April 21-May 16 following an emergency appendectomy. Losing Heyward for any length of time hurts, but the Braves are slated to get both Evan Gattis and Jordan Schafer back from the disabled list right after the All-Star break.

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.