Andy Pettitte gives up five runs in Triple-A start

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Making his first Triple-A start since beginning his comeback, Andy Pettitte gave up five runs — three earned — and eight hits in five innings Sunday against the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Pettitte wasn’t helped by his defense in the game. First baseman Steve Pearce dropped a foul popup on the very first play of the game, and Pedro Ciriaco went on to hit a double in the at-bat, starting a two-run inning that Pettitte only got out of by picking off Lars Anderson at first base. There was another error in the second.

The 39-year-old Pettitte did end the outing by retiring the final five hitters he faced. He threw 59 of his 92 pitches for strikes.

Pettitte has now made four minor league starts and given up 10 runs — seven earned — in 17 innings overall. He’s struck out 13 and walked three. His pitch count is built up to the point that he’s now a viable option for the Yankee rotation. However, given his mediocre showing today, it’d probably make sense to give him one more Triple-A start.

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.