So much for that: Reds cancel Aroldis Chapman’s winter ball plans

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Aroldis Chapman went to the Arizona Fall League in order to build up some arm strength in preparation for pitching as a starter in the Puerto Rican winter league, but the Reds have canceled those plans.

Chapman is healthy after briefly being sidelined by shoulder soreness in Arizona, but general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that they’ve decided to have the 23-year-old left-hander stay in the team-controlled environments in Arizona and Florida:

We’ve decided against sending him to Puerto Rico. He’s on a strength-and-conditioning program in Arizona. He’ll go to Florida after that and continue to work out. There’s no injury. We just want to make sure he’s 100 percent. He had the shoulder issue during the season.

Despite the change of plans the Reds are still hoping that Chapman can make the transition from reliever to starter for 2012, which means he might spend spring training building arm strength instead of showing up to camp ready to work as a starter.

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.