Ryan Braun should know if he’s suspended by February 24

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There’s usually a 25-day deadline between a drug test appeal and a decision, but that time frame has come and gone with respect to Ryan Braun.  Tom Haudricourt reports, however, that MLB’s decision on whether to suspend Braun for 50 games should come no later than February 24, which is Braun’s deadline to report to camp.

I have no idea what they’re gonna do and have zero insight into the process itself. But part of me wonders if they’re working hard to find a way to clear Braun in such a way as to not throw any future high-profile positive test into a situation where the zero-tolerance, automatic nature of it all is compromised.

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.