Bud Selig expects expanded playoffs to begin this season

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We’re just a little over two months away from the start of the 2012 season, but we still have no confirmation on when the expanded playoff format will take effect. Commissioner Bud Selig aims to change that real soon.

According to Jim Owczarski of CSNChicago.com, Selig was in attendance at SoxFest on Friday night to present an award to White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and said that he still expects a second wild-card team to be added to each league this season.

“While I agree with Yogi Berra that it ain’t over til it’s over, I really believe we’ll have the wild card for 2012, this year,” Selig said. “Clubs really want it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an issue that the clubs want more than to have the extra wild card, this year.

“We’re working on dates right now. That will all take place. It looks to me like we’ll have it because I’ve told everybody that we have it. It’ll be exciting – (a) one-game playoff and start the playoffs out on a very exciting manner.”

The new 10-team playoff format would begin with a one-game playoff between the two wild-card teams in each league. MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement specifies that expanded playoffs will begin by 2013, but Selig has been vocal about his desire for the changes to begin as soon as possible.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that there are still some schedule quirks to work out, such as leaving room for potential tie-breaker scenarios, but the plan calls for union and management officials to resume discussions on the logistics early next week.

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.