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Brandon Phillips: “I’m always gonna be Mr. Cincinnati”

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It’s been over three months since Braves’ second baseman Brandon Phillips ended his 11-year run with the Reds, and he was all smiles on his return to Great American Ball Park on Friday. He tipped his cap for a standing ovation, then struck out swinging on four pitches from Cincinnati right-hander Bronson Arroyo.

Prior to the game, the 35-year-old infielder had a lot to say about his tenure with the Reds, admitting several times that he wished he still had a full-time role with his former club.

“There’s a lot of players that left before I did, and they did a great job here, too,” Phillips told Derek Forrest of WLWT.com. “Some things come to an end, and I wish I was still a Redleg, but I’m happy to play home for the Braves. I’m happy to be where I’m at.”

It’s evident that Phillips still has a great affection for the city and its ball club, citing his properties in Fort Thomas and Covington as proof that he’ll always have a soft spot for his former major league home. If one thing’s still bothering him, however, it’s Scooter Gennett‘s jersey number.¬†While Phillips wasn’t the first one to wear No. 4 — that honor belonged to Harvey Hendrick of the 1932 Reds — he was the only one to wear it for more than a decade.

“I still can’t believe that No. 4… that someone’s wearing my number,” the infielder said. “I think that’s like a slap in my face, too, but it is what it is.”

“I’m wearing Cincinnati on my chest and I’m always gonna be Mr. Cincinnati.”

Watch Phillips’ full comments 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.