The error battle is heating up

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When Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon committed his seventh error on the very first play of the bottom of the first inning Saturday, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro knew he’d have to step up his game. Sure enough, he committed his major league-high eighth in the fifth inning.

Here’s the up-to-the-minute leaderboard for errors:

Starlin Castro (SS ChC) – 8
Dee Gordon (SS LAD) – 7
Clint Barmes (SS Pit) – 6
Brandon Crawford (SS SFG) – 6
Evan Longoria (3B TB) – 6
Troy Tulowitzki (SS Col) – 6

NL shortstops have generally been far better than their AL counterparts on defense the last several years, but they’ve been a shaky bunch on the whole this season. The Padres’ Jason Bartlett and Marlins’ Jose Reyes are right behind the leaders with five errors already. The Angels’ Erick Aybar is the only AL shortstop with five errors.

Obviously, things are going to turn around here. Castro and Gordon will likely finish among the league leaders in errors, but Tulo and Barmes certainly shouldn’t. Tulowitzki, incredibly, has already matched his 2011 error total in 116 fewer games. He’s never committed more than 11 errors in a season. Barmes committed 12 errors in 122 games for Houston last year.

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.