Rangers offense in early slumber

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The 2010 Blue Jays probably won’t end up being known for their pitching or their defense (or their offense, for that matter), but the team came within a Jason Frasor blown save of sweeping the Rangers to open the season.
Three games in, the Rangers have just two guys hitting their weight. Vladimir Guerrero, who always tore up Texas pitching as a member of the Angels, has found his new uni very comfortable, as he’s opened up 7-for-11 with a homer. Nelson Cruz, who has hit fifth right behind Guerrero in the lineup, has two homers, two doubles and five RBI in his 10 at-bats.
And that’s pretty much it. No other Ranger has more than one hit this season. The group is a combined 5-for-74 with two RBI against Shaun Marcum, Brian Tallet, Ricky Romero and four members of the Toronto pen.
The usual first three hitters in the lineup are 1-for-30. Julio Borbon is 0-for-12. Michael Young is 1-for-10. Josh Hamilton, who didn’t start Thursday, is 0-for-8 with six strikeouts.
So what’s next? A home series against Seattle in which the Rangers will face Jason Vargas, Felix Hernandez and Ian Snell. The depleted lineup missing Ian Kinsler and Jarrod Saltalamacchia better get something done Friday, as all Felix did last year was go 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts at Rangers ballpark.

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.