Venafro Released; Bong to Bullpen?

The Braves Braves placed left-handed reliever Mike Venafro on waivers Wednesday for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release. His release opens the door for a rookie in the Atlanta bullpen.

Mike Venafro, 29, signed a free-agent deal with the Braves in January after playing last season in Oakland. He was believed to be a literal lock for the lefty bullpen slot, but his spring tour wasn't what the Braves were looking for. He was 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in eight games.

Wednesday was the final day teams were allowed to put players with non-guaranteed contracts on waivers to avoid paying their full salary. Venafro had a non-guaranteed contract of $500,000. He will receive $122,951 from the Braves.

With Venafro eliminated from the mix for the bullpen, the number of players competing for the lefty spot in the bullpen comes down to two. Andy Pratt, who may have endangered his chances by giving up seven runs, four hits and four walks in one inning on Wednesday's game vs. LA. Pratt opened the game with 10 straight balls and walked the first five batters he faced, a sign of inconsistency that Bobby Cox will not go for in a one inning pitcher.

The other lefty competing for the slot is young lefty, Jung Bong, who has a meager 1.80 ERA in 10 Spring innings and is believed to have the inside track over Pratt. The most impressive stat, which may be the one to seal his position in the bullpen is his .185 Batting Average Allowed to lefties.

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