Brad Penny released by Japanese team after one start

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This offseason Brad Penny signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the SoftBank Hawks in Japan, but the two sides have already parted ways.

Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker linked to a Japanese report that says Penny complained of shoulder soreness after a poor debut on April 4 and hasn’t pitched since, with team officials saying that he had trouble adapting to Japanese baseball and wanted to be let go.

It’s unclear how much of that $4 million Penny will keep, but his contract also included $3.5 million in potential incentives that are presumably now out the window.

Penny is 33 years old, apparently has a sore arm, and posted a 5.30 ERA with nearly as many walks (62) as strikeouts (74) for the Tigers last season, so odds are he’ll have trouble finding more than a minor-league contract back home.

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.