This is not the first time Ozzie Guillen voiced his admiration for Castro

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All politics is local. If it wasn’t, these comments Ozzie Guillen made in 2008 to Rick Telander in a Men’s Journal interview would have been pounced on then. But since Guillen was not representing Miami back then, Telander notes, it went virtually unnoticed:

I asked him this: “Who’s the toughest man you know?’’

His response, which took me by surprise: “Fidel Castro.’’

Why?

“He’s a bull—- dictator and everybody’s against him, and he still survives, has power. Still has a country behind him,’’ Ozzie replied. “Everywhere he goes, they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy; I admire him.’’

It’s the same thing he said to Time. Maybe a bit more of a “don’t agree with his policies” disclaimer, but the same sentiment. And if he made it in Miami, boy howdy, would that have been trouble.

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.