Melky Cabrera is a finalist for the “Heart and Hustle” award

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OK, so this was apparently announced way back in July, but I didn’t notice it until Mike Bates pointed it out on Twitter this afternoon and … well, you’ll see.

Each year the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association gives out a “Heart and Hustle” award “to a player who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.”

As part of the voting process one player from each of the 30 teams is selected as a finalist “based on the passion, desire, and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”

All of which makes this pretty amazing: Melky Cabrera is the Giants’ finalist for the “Heart and Hustle” award this year after missing the end of the regular season and being left off the postseason roster following his 50-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug.

As pictured below, Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda presented Cabrera with the team version of the “Heart and Hustle” award on August 1, two weeks before his suspension was announced:

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And you can still vote for him on MLB.com and everything:

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MLB.com balloting only counts for five percent of the total “Heart and Hustle” vote or else this whole thing could get really fun. With his $300,000 in playoff share money Cabrera could build a shrine to display his award.

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.