Hong-Chih Kuo returns to DL with psychological issue

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Dodgers setup man Hong-Chih Kuo, who had struggled since returning from a back strain on May 1, was placed back on the disabled list with what Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez has been told is a physcological issue.

Hernandez says Kuo is experiencing a recurrance of the yips, which first struck back in 2009.

Kuo was supposed to be the fallback for the Dodgers in the closer’s role if Jonathan Broxton failed to turn it around this year, but he had an 11.57 ERA in 4 2/3 innings over nine appearances.

In his last outing Monday, he allowed doubles to the only two hitters he faced before being pulled.

With his velocity down, Kuo showed no signs of being ready to occupy a key role in the Dodger pen. As a result, Vicente Padilla has taken over as the team’s closer in place of the injured Broxton.

Replacing Kuo will be another talented lefty with control issues in Scott Elbert. The former first-round pick had a 5.02 ERA and a 16/9 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque.

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.