Cardinals release former closer Ryan Franklin

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Tony La Russa and the Cardinals did whatever they could to keep Ryan Franklin around despite the former closer’s struggles this season, using him in the lowest of low-leverage situations and often avoiding bringing him into home games so the St. Louis crowd couldn’t shower him with boos.

Last night’s ugly outing was apparently the final straw, however, as Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have released Franklin.

During his first four Cardinals seasons Franklin saved 83 games with a 3.04 ERA while allowing just 262 hits in 285 innings. This season he was 1-for-5 converting saves with an 8.46 ERA and .367 opponents’ batting average, serving up a remarkable nine home runs in just 27 innings.

Franklin allowed 11 runs in his final six appearances and at age 38 will almost surely have to settle for a minor-league deal if he wants to continue pitching.

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.