Ryan Madson sidelined by “a little irritation in his arm”

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Ryan Madson was unavailable for the Reds’ first two spring training games because of what manager Dusty Baker describes as “a little irritation in his arm.”

More specifically Madson has a minor elbow injury, but according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com the Reds aren’t particularly worried about his status yet.

Madson was on the verge of signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Phillies, but once that offer dried up he managed only a one-year, $8.5 million contract from the Reds.

With a strong season as a full-time closer he should be able to recoup much of that lost money, which is why staying healthy is so crucial for the 31-year-old right-hander as he replaces Francisco Cordero in Cincinnati.

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.