Rangers moving Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen

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After an excellent rookie season as a reliever in 2010 the Rangers moved Alexi Ogando into the rotation last year with good results, as he started 29 games with a 3.51 ERA and 126/43 K/BB ratio in 169 innings.

Normally that would be enough to lock a 28-year-old pitcher into the rotation long term, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that the Rangers have decided to reverse course and move Ogando back to the bullpen despite having him build up arm strength as a starter all spring.

Ogando threw six innings in a start yesterday and has made it very clear that he wants to remain a starter. No official announcement has been made yet, but according to Sullivan it’s just a matter of time before manager Ron Washington breaks the bullpen news to Ogando.

Last spring Neftali Feliz staying in the bullpen gave Ogando an opportunity to prove himself as a starter. This spring Feliz moving to the rotation will apparently take that opportunity away. His versatility is a nice luxury for the Rangers, as Ogando was unhittable as a rookie reliever in 2010 with a 1.30 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 42 innings, and of course given how few teams make it through a season needing just five starters his days in the rotation may not be finished.

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.