Darin Erstad may have made his last scrappy out

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When productive veteran outfielders like Johnny Damon and Jermaine Dye are having trouble finding work it makes sense that not-so-productive veteran outfielders like Darin Erstad may be headed for retirement.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange Country Register recently spoke the Erstad, who “sounded like a happy father, perfectly content if he never plays another major-league game.” Here’s more from the 36-year-old who hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2004:

I’m at peace with with whichever way it goes. Things can happen in a hurry. I’m just staying in shape and keeping an open mind to anything. At this point, I’m just living life. I’m going to be ready if it comes. If not, I’m going to be the best dad I can be. I’m pretty sure if I don’t sign with anyone, I’m still going to be pretty busy in March.

Erstad remains a good defensive outfielder, but his bat has gone from overrated and mediocre to just plain bad. He hit .194 in 150 plate appearances off the Astros’ bench last season and has batted .247/.299/.344 in 374 games over the past four years. During that time the only outfielders with more plate appearances and a lower OPS are Joey Gathright and Carlos Gomez.

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.