Tony La Russa would have asked Rick Ankiel to pitch in the 20-inning game

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Saturday night’s marathon Cardinals-Mets game has everyone thinking about crazy extra-inning scenarios, so Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch asked manager Tony La Russa if he would have used Rick Ankiel on the mound had the pitcher-turned-outfielder still been with the Cardinals:

I would have asked him. I would have hoped he said, “Yes.” I never asked him ahead of time. I never wanted to spook him. I’d much rather put him in there. That would have been … fun.

Ankiel is now the Royals’ starting center fielder and hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since 2004, so instead La Russa trotted out Joe Mather to take the 20th-inning loss. Oh well.
Incidentally, after a rough 2009 season Ankiel is off to a good start in Kansas City, hitting .279/.333/.558 with three homers and nine RBIs in 12 games.

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.