Mariano Rivera “having second thoughts” about playing again

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While acknowledging it’s still “probable” that Mariano Rivera will return from knee surgery to pitch next season, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reports that the future Hall of Famer “is having second thoughts about possibly retiring.”

Rivera was pretty adamant about returning at the time of the injury, saying: “I’m coming back. Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain’t going down like this.”

However, according to Marchand’s unnamed sources Rivera “has the familiar tug that he has carried for many years of possibly wanting to stay home with his family and call it a career.”

Rivera is a free agent, so if he does want to play in 2013 he’ll presumably have to let the Yankees know fairly soon so they can plan accordingly and, eventually, come to terms with the 42-year-old on a new contract after he earned $15 million this season.

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.