Finally, a retired player says not everything was better 40 years ago

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Jim Bouton wrote my favorite baseball book of all time, so he could say just about anything at this point and remain on my good side, but it was still nice to see him give the following answer when asked recently what he thinks “about today’s emphasis on pitch counts”:

I think it’s smart. If we’d had that in my day, I might have pitched more. I might have had some more 20-win seasons than I did. I pitched 249 innings in 1963, 271 in 1964, and in 1965, my arm was completely dead. That’s why I had to resurrect the knuckleball. I just couldn’t throw hard any more. There was no elasticity in my muscles. There was no life there, and it was because I pitched so many innings.



Every four days. Having to go eight, nine innings all the time. I had 23 complete games in two years. Now there aren’t 23 complete games on a whole pitching staff. I can see now looking back that it took too much out of me. I’m not 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. It took everything I had to throw as hard as I did, and it took its toll so I think the pitch counts are smart.

The default reaction for retired ballplayers seems to be “things were better in my day” regardless of the topic, so it’s refreshing for a 70-year-old former All-Star to suggest that perhaps limiting a young pitcher’s workload is a good thing.

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.