Braves counting on Kimbrell, Venters in 9th inning

ATLANTA (AP) - The one-week countdown to the start of Braves spring training found Craig Kimbrell and Jonny Venters doing what they do best.

Throwing hard.

Kimbrell, a 22-year-old right-hander, and Venters, a 25-year-old left-hander, are the favorites to take the closer's role left vacant with Billy Wagner's retirement.

New manager Fredi Gonzalez says Kimbrell and Venters may share save situations this season. Some believe Kimbrell may win the job after he averaged two strikeouts per inning in 2010.

Kimbrell and Venters each posted ERAs under 2.00 last year while setting up for Wagner. One week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, Kimbrell and Venters were showing off their fastballs at the early pitcher's camp at Turner Field on Monday.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.