Padres demote struggling catcher Nick Hundley, call up Yasmani Grandal

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The Padres exhibited patience with Nick Hundley in hopes that he would find his way out of his season-long funk. However, after last night’s game, they finally decided to make a change.

Hundley, who signed a three-year, $9 million extension with the Padres in March, is headed to Triple-A Tucson. Top prospect catcher Yasmani Grandal is on his way up.

Hundley clearly wasn’t happy with the team’s decision, but told Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he knows he has work to do.

“Obviously, it’s not my choice,” said Hundley,visibly jarred by the news. “It’s not the road you want to travel, but it’s not always going to be perfect. I want to be here. I feel very fortunate to be here.

“I have to take a step back and get it right, because it hasn’t been right this year. I can’t stand here and deny it. And I appreciate the fact that they were still throwing me out there when I wasn’t playing well.”

Hundley has struggled to stay healthy during his career, but he hinted at a breakthrough last season by hitting .288 with nine home runs and an .824 OPS in 82 games. The 28-year-old has managed to avoid the disabled list this year, but he’s hitting just .166/.226/.259 with three homers and a .485 OPS across 213 plate appearances.

Grandal had a brief stint in the majors earlier this month, but he’ll get his first extended look at playing time now that Hundley will work through his struggles in the minors. Acquired from the Reds over the winter in the Mat Latos deal, the 23-year-old is hitting .335/.443/.521 with six homers, 35 RBI and a .963 OPS in 56 games at the Triple-A level this 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.