Brian Wilson aims high

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There’s a profile on Brian Wilson in today’s New York Times. It’s a bit more nuanced than your typical “that Brian Wilson is CRAZY!” article we’ve been seeing much of recently.  I don’t think he’s crazy. Just a bit off center. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all calculated, but ultimately it’s harmless.  It’s also probably the sort of thing that won’t sit will with his employers once he stops saving 40+ games a year.  “Ball Four” wasn’t written that long ago. The notion that eccentricity in baseball is only acceptable if you’re an elite player likely still holds. As it does in almost every walk of life in our society, sadly enough.

OK, that got a tad pessimistic. This was the part I liked the best. Wilson’s ultimate aim:

“I’d like to be a crossword clue one day,” he said. “I want to be in The New York Times’s Sunday edition. Right now, the clue ‘Giants great’ is always Mel Ott. I want my clue to be down, not across. The down ones are usually harder. And when I’m the clue, I’ll fill it in — just that one — and frame it.

“How sweet would that be?”

Careful what you wish for, Brian. “Bearded Giants closer; blew Game 7” is just as valid a clue as any other.

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.