Billy Hamilton leaves game after injuring hand on diving catch

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UPDATE: Mark Sheldon of MLB.com passes along word that Hamilton sprained the third and fourth knuckles of his left (glove) hand on the catch. No word on how much time he’ll need to miss.

7:41 p.m. ET: Billy Hamilton left tonight’s game against the Brewers in the first inning after he suffered an apparent injury when he robbed Carlos Gomez of extra bases on a diving catch. You can watch the excellent play here.

Hamilton managed to finish the top half of the inning, but was replaced by pinch-hitter Chris Heisey when the Reds came up to bat in the bottom of the first. No word yet on the exact nature of the injury, but we’ll pass along an update when it’s available.

Hamilton started the season very slow, going hitless over his last five games, but he entered play tonight hitting .280/.310/.378 with five extra-base hits, six RBI, and 11 stolen bases over his last 21 games. Here’s hoping it’s something minor. Hamilton is a lot of fun to watch. And as we saw tonight, it’s not just because of what he does on the bases.

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.