Rasmus, La Russa getting along after rocky start

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rasmus batting practice.jpgJoe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a fascinating piece Sunday morning on the once-tumultuous relationship between Cardinals center fielder Colby Rasmus and veteran manager Tony La Russa.

Rasmus was selected 28th overall in the 2005 MLB amateur draft and has already established himself as an important part of the Cardinals both at the plate and in the field. 

A streaky hitter and a typical coach’s son, Rasmus sought guidance from his father when he began struggling last season.  That, at first, rubbed La Russa the wrong way, but he has since embraced it.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” La Russa said last week in Los
Angeles. “I’ve talked to his father about what he teaches, what he
sees. He knows Colby better than anybody. If he helps Colby, he helps
us.”

In turn, Colby has warmed to the sometimes-stubborn but always faithful La Russa.

“I come from such a different place,” the Phenix City, Alabama native told the Post-Dispatch. “We’ve been through some pretty tough times. I mean,
last year I didn’t even open my mouth. I can handle it when he gets on
me. But he’s old school. Sometimes I don’t understand the way he’s
going about it. He’s a real smart guy. I’m not that smart. I’ve just
played baseball since I could walk, and some of those things he talks
about I didn’t understand.”

Rasmus, 23, is hitting .290 this season with a spectacular .397 on-base percentage, a .568 slugging percentage, 11 home runs and 30 RBI through 176 at-bats.  Considered a five-tool prospect when he was drafted, the youngster has also swiped eight bases this year and appears primed for several future 20 HR-20 SB campaigns.

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.