Guzman not at full strength after shoulder surgery

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I tuned into yesterday afternoon’s Nationals-Tigers game just to see Stephen Strasburg’s spring training debut, but also got a look at Cristian Guzman’s surgically repaired right shoulder as he lobbed a weak, high-arcing throw to first base after fielding a Strasburg-induced grounder.
Even before the injury Guzman was pretty lax with his throws to first base, dating all the way back to his time with the Twins from 1999-2004, but yesterday’s effort looked like it had a parachute attached and sure enough today manager Jim Riggleman told Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com that the shortstop “is a little concerned to air it out.”
Riggleman estimated that Guzman’s shoulder is “probably at about 90 percent” strength, which if true should worry the Nationals quite a bit because adding 10 percent to yesterday’s throws still equals a whole lot of infield hits.
Shortstop prospect Ian Desmond has been impressive early in camp, but Goessling notes that Guzman likely isn’t in any danger of losing his starting job. Instead the Nationals have been giving Desmond reps as a right fielder in addition to moving him around the infield. Desmond may begin the year as a utility man, but there’s a strong chance he’ll have unseated Guzman or second baseman Adam Kennedy by midseason.

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.