Josh Hamilton back in Rangers lineup, blames caffeine and sports drinks for vision problems

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After missing the past five-and-a-half games with what was initially called a sinus infection and subsequent vision problems Josh Hamilton is back in the Rangers’ lineup tonight against the A’s.

However, the diagnosis has changed somewhat. According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas the Rangers “say Hamilton has ocular keratitis, which is blurred vision from too much caffeine and sports drinks” and “the cornea dries because of it.”

Well, that’s certainly a new one (and presumably unrelated to his tobacco issues from last month). Johns Hopkins’ website has a whole lot more information on Hamilton’s condition if you’re interested.

Craig Gentry filled in for Hamilton, starting all five games in center field with Nelson Cruz and David Murphy in the outfield corners. Hamilton is batting third and playing center field tonight and he’ll try to reclaim the AL home run lead after Miguel Cabrera tied him over the weekend. Hamilton, who has 42 homers in 138 games compared to 42 homers in 151 games for Cabrera, also ranks second among AL hitters with 123 RBIs behind Cabrera’s league-leading 133.

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.