PHOENIX – The Dodgers have added a bat.
Veteran outfielder Will Venable was signed on Tuesday to bolster a roster that noticeably was in need of a left-handed hitter off the bench.
The 33-year-old outfielder can play all three positions in front of the warning track and has a career batting average of .251 with 81 home runs and 307 RBI in 955 games.
After eight seasons in San Diego, Venable started the year with the Phillies organization in Triple-A Lehigh Valley club where he batted .205 with seven doubles, two homers and 19 RBI. He was released by Philadelphia on June 10th.
Venable was drafted by the Padres in 2005 and was named the 2006 Minor League Player of the Year. He was signed to a one-year deal by the boys in blue before Tuesday's game against the Diamondbacks and the team optioned Austin Barnes back to Triple-A OKC.
"You know what, you look at our roster right now, a left-handed bat for a start in the outfield or off the bench late in the game, I think it was needed," manager Dave Roberts told the media before the game. "I had him in San Diego, a very good defender, athletic, can steal a base and get a bunt down if we need it. So if there is an opportunity to start against a right-handed pitcher, we'll have that to."
The Dodgers were definitely in need of a left-handed bat off the bench especially since super-utility player Enrique Hernandez has struggled as a pinch-hitter this season.
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Ironically, the Dodgers did have a veteran left-handed bat off the bench just a couple weeks ago in Carl Crawford, but the team formally released him two days ago and is still paying him over $38 million over the next two seasons.
Surprisingly, Venable was not much different offensively than Crawford was, and is around the same age. It could just be a better fit with Venable and Roberts than it was with Crawford.
"I like to think that I'm a guy that whatever is asked of me I can get the job done to help the team win," Venable told reporters in the team's clubhouse on Tuesday. "Whether that's running the bases well, playing good defense, putting together a tough at-bat out there, whatever is asked of me, I'd like to think that I go out there and can get the job done."
Venable's stay with the team could be short as Yasiel Puig is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list next Monday. Puig homered in a rehab start at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Monday.
It will be interesting to see what the Dodgers do once Puig returns. Venable, Puig, Scott Van Slyke, Trayce Thompson, Hernandez and Joc Pederson give the team six outfielders and if they send Venable back to Triple-A upon Puig's return, they will still be lacking a left-handed bat off the bench.