A boy meets Harmon Killebrew

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Today there are a lot of Harmon Killebrew stories floating around.  Most of them involve an interview with the guy or meeting him in spring training sometime in the past few years.  Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly has one that goes a little further back. To age 9, when he got an autograph outside the visitor’s clubhouse at Fenway Park:

The third man in the group was stocky and balding and his temples were gray. When you’re 9, you have a terrible concept of age. You think of anyone who doesn’t go out for Halloween anymore as old. With that, I must confess I thought the balding man was the trainer. But trying to be polite, I asked him if he’d sign as well.

The man was gracious and completely untroubled. He smiled and said he’d be happy to sign my ball.

It sure as hell wasn’t Cesar Tovar.

Great read.

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.