Each team nominates a player for the Branch Rickey award–which is given annually to a big leaguer “for exceptional community service”–and this year’s winner is Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino.
During the past year Victorino has raised $500,000 for charities in Hawaii and also pledged $1 million to remodel a 105-year-old Boys and Girls Club in Philadelphia, which is now called the “Shane Victorino Boys and Girls Club.”
He’ll receive the award from the Rotary Club of Denver during an event in November. Last year’s winner was Vernon Wells, then of the Blue Jays.
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.