International scouting director Craig Shipley leaves Red Sox

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General manager Ben Cherington announced yesterday that the Red Sox and international scouting director Craig Shipley are parting ways after the former big leaguer spent nine years in the organization.

Last February the Red Sox promoted Shipley to senior vice president of player personnel and international scouting and at various points during his time with the team he’s been mentioned as a possible GM down the road, but his status clearly changed significantly once Theo Epstein left.

Cherington predictably didn’t shed much light on the reasons for Shipley’s departure, but did tell Ian Browne of MLB.com:

He’s someone that I have great respect for. He’s a really good evaluator, passionate baseball guy. Through the course of conversations with him, it just became clear to me that it might be time for a fresh start. So, that’s the direction we’re going. I wish him nothing but the best.

Shipley played a big part in the Red Sox signing Japanese pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima, and Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes that he “was an influential voice in pushing ahead to make the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, even at the cost of star prospect Hanley Ramirez and big league starter Anibal Sanchez.”

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.