Rafael Soriano does not care about the bats of the AL East

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rafael soriano.jpgGary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times catches up with new Rays’ closer Rafael Soriano, who is as cool as a cucumber:

Jeter and A-Rod, you say. And he does not quiver. Ortiz and Youkilis, you say. And he does not flinch.

Teixeira and Hill, you are about to say. And he does not wait
for you to finish because the list of imposing American League East
hitters is long.

“I do not care,” Rafael Soriano says softly, firmly. “If I am
healthy, if I am on the mound, I do not care who the hitter is. I am
good, too.”

I absolutely love this response and I wish everyone asked about how tough the AL East is said something similar.

Yes, it’s a good division. Even tougher than it has been if the Orioles take the step forward many are expecting them to take.  But still, every major leaguer is a pro who, at some point in their lives, was the absolute best at what they did in their given peer group. The difference between being merely good and truly elite are not as great as many people realize.

There are differences in quality between the AL and the NL at present, and there are differences between the AL East and everyone else as well. But those differences are not akin to those between day and night or man and boy, and frankly, I’m tired of the exaggerations.

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.