The Mets offseason training is getting serious

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I’m gathering from the Twitterverse that a number of Mets players are at the New York Fire Department’s training academy this morning, in full firefighter gear, going through training exercises like putting out burning cars and stuff.  The best was Dillon Gee rappelling down the side of a tower.  Take that Cashman.

I like the community outreach — and will always remember the deep connection formed between the New York baseball teams and the police and fire departments following 9/11 — but query: don’t player contracts usually prohibit ballplayers from cycling and skiing and playing pickup basketball and stuff?  Yet we’re cool with them putting out fires and being suspended several stories above concrete?

Hey, not my team.

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.