Nationals place Bryce Harper on disabled list with left thumb sprain, possible ligament damage

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As first relayed by beat reporter James Wagner at the Washington Post, the Nationals have officially placed outfielder Bryce Harper on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained left thumb. Steven Souza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse in a corresponding 25-man roster move Sunday to provide outfield depth in Harper’s absence.

Harper suffered the thumb sprain Friday night against the Padres when he dove head-first into third base after a bases-loaded triple in the bottom of the third inning. He underwent an MRI on Saturday and will be examined by a specialist this week. The Nats believe he may have some ligament damage. “Doesn’t look good,” a source told the Post.

Harper, 21, was batting .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 22 games this season.

It’s maybe worth noting that he got benched a week ago for a lack of hustle.

Funny, then, that he screwed up his left thumb on a hustle play.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.