Venters draws praise from ex-teammate Diaz

Venters draws praise from ex-teammate Diaz

PITTSBURGH -- Pirates outfielder Matt Diaz enjoyed the chance to have a locker next to Jonny Venters' last year. But it's safe to say the popular former Brave did not exactly enjoy having to face Venters during the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game at PNC Park.

Venters's appearance during Tuesday' s 2-0 win over the Bucs consisted solely of the four-pitch strikeout he notched against Diaz.

"He tries to tell me he can't throw strikes and then he throws me a nasty slider right on the black with the first pitch," Diaz said. "He's good. He's really good. He obviously has unbelievable stuff and it looks like he's starting to harness it."

During his five-year stint in Atlanta, Diaz feasted on left-handed relievers. Now that he has faced Venters, the veteran outfielder has an even better understanding of why many believe his good friend stands as the game's top left-handed reliever.

"I'm trying to think of anyone who would even be considered better than him," Diaz said. "Lefties can't hit him. There are a lot of left-handed relievers designed to get lefties out. But standing in there as a righty last night, you get why righties don't hit him very well, either. He's just nasty."

Diaz said he did not feel too odd playing against Atlanta on Tuesday night. While dining with Venters at a Japanese steakhouse in downtown Pittsburgh on Monday night, Diaz had a chance to talk to Chipper Jones, David Ross, Eric Hinske and many of his other former teammates.