Someone was worried about Livan Hernandez's pitch count? Really?

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Livan Hernandez pitches.jpgLivan Hernandez threw 123 pitches against the Braves last night and after the game a reporter asked Jim Riggleman if he was concerned about it.

Which is rather shocking to me, because it’s Livan Hernandez we’re talking about here. The 35 year-old (at least) Livan Hernandez. The Livan Hernandez who has averaged close to 200 innings a year for his career. The same Livan Hernandez who has thrown more than 120 pitches in a game 122 times in his career. The guy has thrown over 150 pitches on three occasions, for crying out loud.  If anyone can handle 123 pitches, it’s Livan freakin’ Hernandez.

Here’s my thing about pitch counts. They’re important with young arms, because studies have shown that pitchers below, say, 25 years old or so benefit with lower workloads. They’re also important for guys who, over the course of their career, either suffer a lot of injuries or show a marked decline in performance when they’re worked hard.

Granted, this covers most pitchers. But not all.  Just as there were some guys back in the day who could throw 250-300 innings year-in, year-out with seemingly no ill-effect, there are no doubt guys today who could do that too if given the chance.  Because of the well-advised caution, however, we just don’t know who they are.  It’d be great if we could figure out who they were definitively because, man, wouldn’t it be awesome if Bruce Bochy could pitch Tim Lincecum 40 times  year without concern for his health. But we just can’t expect teams to take the kinds of risks necessary to figure out whether they have a modern day Fergie Jenkins on their staff.

But I think we can all agree that Livan Hernandez is one of those guys.  He’s not good enough to justify giving him 300 innings in a year, but he could do it. And when he’s pitching well like he has been so far this year, what possible reason would you have for not riding him until he breaks?

Which he probably never will.

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.