Joaquin Benoit is making a comeback

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FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports that Joaquin Benoit is making a comeback after sitting out all of last season following shoulder surgery.
Benoit pitched eight seasons in Texas after signing with the Rangers out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, but he’s now a free agent and Morosi notes a “handful of teams” are interested. He struggled in 2008 before going under the knife, but Benoit had a 3.80 ERA with 250 strikeouts versus just 205 hits allowed in 248.2 innings from 2005-2007.
When healthy he featured a low-90s fastball/mid-80s slider combo that was very tough to hit. In fact, during that three-year span the only relievers to toss 200 innings with a lower opponents’ batting average than Benoit were Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Billy Wagner, J.J. Putz, Brian Fuentes, Scot Shields, Rafael Betancourt, and Mariano Rivera.
As a 32-year-old coming off major arm surgery Benoit may simply be finished, but he’d definitely be a worthwhile flier for teams with some middle-relief openings.

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.