Jordan Schafer was just ahead of his time, man

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Lots of hand wringing when Astros’ center fielder Jordan Schafer was arrested with marijuana a couple of months ago. However, Courtland Milloy’s column in the Washington Post — passing along the results of a study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine — may show that it wasn’t all bad, man:

“Athletes under the influence of cannabis indicate that their thoughts flow more easily and their decision making and creativity is enhanced,” the researchers wrote. “Health professionals have encountered athletes including gymnasts, divers, football players and basketball players who claim smoking cannabis before play helps them focus better.”

But, they concluded, “Much additional research is needed to determine the effects of cannabis on athletic performance.”

Personally, I’d still keep marijuana banned for pro athletes.  Not because of the drug itself. It’s way less harmful than alcohol and tobacco and we have no problem with ballplayers using that stuff.  Rather, I’d ban it because it leads to stuff like increased Taco Bell consumption and late nights watching “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” and that stuff is just horrible for one’s conditioning.

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.