Venters back in Braves' bullpen

Venters back in Braves' bullpen

ATLANTA -- Looking to find the positives after his team had just been no-hit by Ubaldo Jimenez during Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Rockies, Braves manager Bobby Cox took time to praise the successful Major League debut that Jonny Venters had just experienced.

After Kenshin Kawakami lasted just five innings, Venters limited the Rockies to one hit in three scoreless innings. Just 24 hours earlier, the 25-year-old left-hander had learned that he would receive his first call to the Majors.

"The first inning, the nerves were pretty strong, but getting that first out really helped out a lot," said the noticeably still-excited Venters, who opened the sixth by getting Ian Stewart to fly out to left field.

Venters, who battled for an Opening Day roster spot through the last week of Spring Training, set down nine of the 11 batters that he faced. He surrendered a two-out seventh-inning single to Todd Helton and issued a two-out eighth-inning walk to Stewart.

"The guy who really impressed me tonight in his debut was Jonny Venters," Cox said. "[His] 95 [mph] fastball with sink like he's got is something special. He was perfect tonight."

Venters, who impressed the Braves with his sinker during Spring Training, allowed one run in the 6 2/3 innings he completed for Triple-A Gwinnett this year. The 25-year-old left-hander essentially fills the bullpen spot originally given to Jo-Jo Reyes, who hyperextended his right knee while allowing nine earned runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of Monday's loss to the Padres.

Had Venters not started for Gwinnett on Monday night, the Braves would have likely had him fill the roster spot when Reyes was placed on the disabled list on Thursday. But they instead asked Mike Dunn to provide insurance in the bullpen for two days until Venters was ready to pitch again.

This marks the first time that Venters has been promoted to the Majors. After signing with the Braves in 2004, he battled elbow ailments in each of his first five professional seasons. During his only completely healthy season, last year, he pitched for both Double-A Mississippi and Gwinnett. Right-handers tagged Venters for a .291 batting average, but left-handers were limited to a .235 mark.