Aaron Hicks gives up switch-hitting

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Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks announced this morning that he’s giving up switch-hitting and will bat exclusively right-handed from now on, following in Shane Victorino’s footsteps last season for the Red Sox.

Hicks has been switch-hitting since little league and bristled at the idea of changing as recently as spring training, but he’s always been much more productive as a right-handed hitter facing left-handed pitching. For his big-league career–which is a relatively small sample of 118 games–he’s hit .179 with a .546 off righties compared to .227 with a .735 OPS off lefties.

However, it should be noted that his production off lefties thus far has involved Hicks having the platoon advantage, which he won’t have when facing righties as a right-handed hitter. Still, given how lost Hicks has looked from the left side of the plate it’s hard to imagine the move not improving his overall production.

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.