Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan misses save chance with hamstring injury

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Joel Hanrahan was unavailable out of the Pirates’ bullpen last night because of a hamstring injury, so Juan Cruz got a rare save opportunity and closed out a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks.

Tom Singer of MLB.com reports that Hanrahan tweaked his hamstring while throwing the final pitch of his Sunday save versus the Giants and “remains day-to-day with tightness in that area.”

Hanrahan said last night that he’s hoping to be available again Friday or Saturday, which would be nearly a week since the initial injury and means any further setback puts a disabled list stint in play.

He was fantastic last year with a 1.83 ERA and 40 saves in his first full season as a closer, but Hanrahan has gotten just one save chance so far this year. Last night’s save was surprisingly just the fourth of Cruz’s career despite his being a late-inning reliever with bat-missing stuff since 2004.

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.