Report: No winter ball for Manny Ramirez after all

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Earlier today, we found out that Manny Ramirez intends to follow through with his plans to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic. Now we find out it’s probably not going to happen after all.

According to ESPN.com, Ramirez will have to drop his plans because of his suspension for failing a drug test earlier this year. Ramirez opted to retire from MLB rather than serve his 100-game suspension, but because the Dominican winter league is connected to MLB, he will not be allowed to play there.

An MLB official confirmed that since Ramirez has unresolved MLB drug-program violations and the Dominican winter league is affiliated with MLB, commissioner Bud Selig’s office considers him ineligible to play in the league.

According to the report, Ramirez could only play for an independent team unaffiliated with Major League Baseball. Long Island Ducks, anyone?

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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.