Freddy Sanchez opts for back surgery, out for season

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Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who opened the year on the disabled list after he was slow to recover from shoulder surgery, underwent season-ending surgery to remove a portion of a disc from his back Wednesday.

CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports the micro-disectomy went as planned, but Sanchez’s Giants career is still likely over, barring the decision to hand him another baffling contract extension.

Sanchez will have made about $20 million for hitting .290/.333/.387 with 11 homers in 78 RBI in 196 games with San Francisco. The Giants acquired him in a deadline deal with the Pirates in 2009. He played in just 25 games over the rest of that year and hit .284/.295/.324, but the Giants gave him a two-year, $12 million deal anyway. Making matters worse, they signed him to a completely unnecessary one-year, $6 million extension in April 2011.

Sanchez turns 35 this winter, so he’ll have an uphill battle as he attempts to make a comeback. Unless Brian Sabean is still gaga for him, he’ll probably have to accept a minor league deal and the chance to compete for a starting job.

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.