Should Russell Martin be watching his back?

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MLB.com is running a “10 questions”
series for all 30 MLB teams and I’ll go over a few of the more
interesting tidbits today. We’ll start
with a piece by Ken Gurnick about the Dodgers:

Is this a make-or-break season for catcher Russell Martin?


Management hasn’t given up on Martin, but it isn’t ignoring his
two-year regression. Don’t be surprised if A.J. Ellis gets a lot of
playing time in Spring Training, and don’t be surprised if he makes a
serious run at Martin’s job.

That, my friends, is insane. Ellis, 29, has just one major league hit to his credit and despite an impressive on-base
percentage in the minors, he has just four home runs over the past two
seasons (697 plate appearances). Ellis won’t push Martin for his job,
but he could save him from the heavy workload (he has caught over 143 games in each of the last three seasons) that has taken a toll on his bat and his legs.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.