Jocketty: Reds “not close” to extension with Brandon Phillips

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Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips told reporters back in late-September that he would not be offering a “homeboy hookup” to Cincinnati once it came time to discuss terms for a new contract.

And he certainly seems to be sticking to that.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com on Thursday that the two sides are “not close” to reaching an extension, meaning Phillips will likely enter the 2012 season as a free-agent-to-be.

Phillips, 30, is regarded as one of the top defensive second basemen in the major leagues and batted .300 with an .810 OPS, 18 home runs and 82 RBI in 674 plate appearances this year for the third-place Reds. He’s talented, durable and — with his beaming personality — capable of becoming a fan-favorite in any city.

Phillips will earn $12 million next season via a club option that was exercised at the end of October.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.