Frank Francisco won't be available for Rangers in the ALDS

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Frank Francisco was optimistic enough after throwing from flat ground last week that he hoped to return from a month-long back injury to join the Rangers’ bullpen for the ALDS, but according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that’s been ruled out.
Ron Washington told Wilson that the most recent MRI exam “showed improvement in the muscle but not enough for him to start throwing off a mound.” He could still be added to the postseason roster for the ALCS or World Series, but first Francisco will have to show that he’s healthy by rehabbing in Arizona.
Francisco began the season as Texas’ closer before losing the job to Neftali Feliz following back-to-back ugly outings in early April, but recovered to post a 2.84 ERA and 57/16 K/BB ratio in 50 innings prior to landing on the disabled list last month. He would have been a nice addition to what is already a very strong playoff pitching staff, but now he’s a long shot to pitch in October.

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.