Reds among teams interested in Juan Pierre

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We’ve heard all sorts of chatter about the Phillies possibly moving impending free agents Cole Hamels or Shane Victorino if GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. decides to become a seller before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but they aren’t the only players drawing interest from opposing general managers.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported last night that Reds are among the teams who have expressed interest in outfielder Juan Pierre. Entering today’s action, Reds leadoff hitters rank dead-last in the majors this season in batting average (.201), on-base percentage (.246) and OPS (.562), so GM Walt Jocketty is keeping the phone lines open for an upgrade.

Pierre joined the Phillies on a minor league deal over the winter and is hitting .312/.349/.380 with one home run, 17 RBI and a .730 OPS through 72 games played this season. The 34-year-old outfielder is currently tied for fourth in the majors with 20 stolen bases. If acquired by the Reds, he would likely be used as part of an outfield rotation with Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick and Chris Heisey.

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.