Yankees activate Eric Chavez from DL, send Eduardo Nunez to minors

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Eduardo Nunez has struggled defensively at every position he’s tried for the Yankees, which recently includes starts in left field for the first time in his professional career.

That has limited his playing time despite a decent .728 OPS and today the Yankees decided he’d be better off starting regularly at Triple-A, demoting him to the minors to make room for Eric Chavez’s return from the disabled list.

This time last year Yankees fans who didn’t know better were getting excited about Nunez as the long-term shortstop after he played well subbing for an injured Derek Jeter, but now Jeter is back to hitting and Nunez is back to looking like a long-term utility man his minor-league track record suggested.

He’ll be back, if only because the odds of Chavez staying healthy are always slim, and also because the Yankees are unlikely to feel comfortable with Jayson Nix as their backup shortstop for very long. So far, though, Nunez has hit .271 with a .320 on-base percentage and .380 slugging percentage in 450 plate appearances as a big leaguer and turns 25 years old next month, so not playing regularly might simply prove to be his best role.

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.