Royals closer Joakim Soria has damaged elbow ligament

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Joakim Soria’s fears were justified, as an MRI exam on his injured elbow revealed ulnar collateral ligament damage.

No word yet on the extent of the damage, but torn UCLs are what lead to Tommy John surgeries and 12-month recoveries.

Soria has actually already had Tommy John surgery, way back in 2003 when he was a teenager in rookie-ball. His big-league debut came four years later and since then he’s been one of the truly elite relievers in all of baseball, throwing 315 innings with a 2.40 ERA and fantastic 341/87 K/BB ratio.

And now just days after losing 22-year-old catcher Salvador Perez for 3-4 months following knee surgery the Royals may be without their best pitcher and potential top trade asset. Soria makes $6 million this season and the Royals have $8 million and $8.75 million team options for 2013 and 2014.

Jonathan Broxton would be the obvious choice to fill in for Soria as closer, assuming of course that he’s healthy after missing most of last season with elbow problems of his own.

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.