Sid Bream declines Braves’ request to throw out the first pitch

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For Pirates fans old enough to remember the 1992 NLCS, former Braves first baseman Sid Bream still haunts their memories. The image of Francisco Cabrera lining Stan Belinda’s pitch to left field, of Barry Bonds’ throw being to the right of home plate, of catcher Mike LaValliere reaching for it and diving back to tag Bream, of Bream’s foot hitting home plate just a split-second before the tag. It was the last we heard of the Pirates until this year.

The Pirates ended their playoff drought and, if they win their Wild Card play-in game against the Reds (assuming, of course, that the Cardinals clinch the NL Central title), they just might match up against the Braves in the NLDS. Knowing this, the Braves asked Bream if he would like to throw out the first pitch before a Pirates-Braves playoff match-up. Bream declined, reports Rob Biertempfel.

“Whatever their motive (for the invite) was, I don’t want to be involved,” Bream said Friday by phone.[…]“I wasn’t surprised (by the offer),” Bream said. “Whether their motive was to rub it in the Pirates’ faces, I don’t know. I think it was just more of a gesture to commemorate those two teams getting back together in the postseason. But I’ll stay neutral. I’m not going to do anything to tell the fans in Atlanta or Pittsburgh that I’m (rooting) one way or the other.”

Bream played for the Pirates from September 1985 through the 1990 season. In December 1990, he signed with the Braves as a free agent, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Relive Bream’s unforgettable moment below:

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.