A’s release veteran reliever Brian Fuentes

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Not surprisingly the A’s couldn’t find a taker for Brian Fuentes and his contract after designating him for assignment last week, so today they released the veteran reliever.

Fuentes was briefly Oakland’s closer this season, stepping into the ninth-inning role when Grant Balfour struggled, but lost that job to rookie Ryan Cook.

He was owed about $2.5 million for the second half and another $250,000 to buy out his 2013 option, so the A’s will eat that money and Fuentes is free to sign elsewhere for a prorated share of the minimum salary (or perhaps even a minor-league deal).

At age 36 he’s no longer late-inning material, but Fuentes could still help some teams as a secondary setup man or middle reliever.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.