You can help narc on tobacco-using ballplayers

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Last fall, the players agreed to curb their obvious tobacco use at the ballpark as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If you forgot, here were the contours of that, courtesy of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Under the agreement that MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced in November, big-league players, managers and coaches will no longer be able to carry a tobacco tin or package in their uniforms or on their bodies at games, or any time that fans are in the ballpark. They will be prohibited from using smokeless tobacco during televised interviews, at autograph signings and other events where they meet fans, or at team-sponsored appearances. Violators are subject to discipline.

One might wonder who will be in charge of enforcing all of that.  Given that the tobacco restrictions had a heavy dose of P.R. to them, you can imagine that teams and the league probably feel like they have more important things to do.  They got their anti-smoking press releases last fall, after all.

But don’t worry about it falling through the cracks. Because you and me and all of our friends can report violators!

Enforcement of these restrictions is essential, and we urge team managers and personnel, and league officials, to rigorously enforce them. To encourage fans to play a role and support compliance, we are asking them to report violations to the Knock Tobacco Out of the Park Coalition.

Here’s where you can go to report players. And Jim Leyland.

My opposition to narcing on people notwithstanding, this seems like an awful lot of fun.  And something that will not be abused by anyone at all ever. Nope.

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.