It’s all about Pedro Ciriaco as Red Sox nip Yankees

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Where has Pedro Ciriaco been all season?

The answer, unfortunately for the Red Sox, is buried behind Nick Punto. But Ciriaco, given a chance to shine because of Dustin Pedroia’s thumb injury, came through again Sunday, making another outstanding defensive play at shortstop and singling in the go-ahead run in the 10th in a 3-2 win over the Yankees.

Here’s the video of the grab and the video of the hit.

Ciriaco is hitting .349 and is 6-for-6 stealing bases in 18 games for the Red Sox after being called up earlier this month. He really should have made the team out of spring training, but the Red Sox wanted to carry five outfielders instead of two utilitymen.

That the Red Sox have Ciriaco is actually a result of last summer’s deal to send infielder Yamaico Navarro to Kansas City for Mike Aviles, Boston’s current starting shortstop. The Royals quickly soured on Navarro, sending him to Pittsburgh in a minor trade after the season. That made Ciriaco expendable after two years in the organization, and after he was bumped from the 40-man and became a free agent, the Red Sox signed him to a minor league contract.

It’s doubtful Ciriaco has a future as a regular in Boston — his fast offensive start is a fluke — but his speed and defense could keep him in the league as a reserve for several years. He’d seem to stand a better chance of being around next year than Punto, even if Punto did get a two-year deal to sign last winter.

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.