Rays announce minor-league deal with Hideki Matsui

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Tampa Bay has finally made official what was reported last week, announcing a minor-league contract with Hideki Matsui.

Why the signing was delayed for a week is unclear, but Matsui was never going to immediately join the Rays anyway.

Instead he’ll head to Triple-A, where the Rays will evaluate whether the 38-year-old has anything left in the tank and wait to see if they even need help at designated hitter or left field. Right now Luke Scott is slugging .610 as their primary DH and there’s certainly no room for Matsui in the Desmond Jennings-B.J. Upton-Matt Joyce outfield.

After posting an OPS above .775 in each of his first eight seasons Matsui hit just .251 with 12 homers and a .696 OPS in 141 games for the A’s last year, topping a .700 OPS in just one month.

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.