MLB kicks Pirates legends off the bench

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MLB wants no part of any feel good stories.

A couple of hours after I noted the presence of former Pirates stars Bill Mazeroski and Bill Virdon on the bench for this week’s series against the Twins, MLB has decided to put the kibosh on it.

I actually planned to write about Mazeroski and Verdon on Tuesday night, but I was looking for some word about how the arrangement materialized, given MLB’s limits on the number of coaches on the bench. Perhaps most notably, the league prevented the Red Sox from having 87-year-old Johnny Pesky in uniform as a seventh coach in the dugout in 2007.

MLB never chimed in then, though the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted how that the Pirates did seek and receive the Twins’ approval to have the two extra coaches in the dugout. Apparently, the league was willing to let it slide for one day, but not for any longer.

It’s silly to think the Pirates gained any meaningful advantage from this, and frankly, there’s no way the game could be harmed by teams occasionally bringing back players as honorary coaches. Still, MLB has decided a rule is a rule, even if it doesn’t benefit anyone.

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.