PHOENIX -- The Dodgers added a veteran left-handed bat to the bench Tuesday by signing free-agent outfielder Will Venable and optioning utilityman Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City.Venable made his debut with the Dodgers in the eighth inning, grounding out to first base in a 7-4 victory over the D-backs
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers added a veteran left-handed bat to the bench Tuesday by signing free-agent outfielder Will Venable and optioning utilityman Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Venable made his debut with the Dodgers in the eighth inning, grounding out to first base in a 7-4 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field.
Venable was released three days earlier by the Phillies after hitting .205 in 41 games at Triple-A and he figures to be on the club at least until outfielder Yasiel Puig returns from the disabled list next week.
The 33-year-old Venable had a .251 lifetime average with 81 homers and 307 RBIs in parts of eight seasons with San Diego and Texas. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was on the San Diego coaching staff for five of the seasons Venable played with the Padres.
Venable's best season was 2013, when he slugged 22 home runs with a .796 OPS. He also has one of the higher stolen-base percentages with 135 steals and 31 caught stealing. Last year, splitting time between San Diego and Texas, he was successful on 16 of 17 attempts.
"When you look at our roster, a left-handed bat for a start in the outfield or off the bench late in a game, I think that was needed," said Roberts. "We play lot of close games and that element is something we don't have. With a four-man bench and not having a left-handed bat off the bench, it's something I felt we needed.
"He can play all three [outfield spots], I had him in San Diego and he is a very good defender, can steal a base and get a bunt down if you need it. We were actively searching for someone to fill that role and only so many are available. When the name Will Venable was brought to my attention, there's some familiarity there and I was supportive of it."
In addition to Roberts, Venable will be reunited with former Padres teammate Adrian Gonzalez.
"Adrian taught me a lot about this game, even though that was a long time ago," said Venable. "I still have that respect for him."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.