Twins sign catcher Eric Fryer to minor league deal

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From MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger comes word that the Twins have signed catcher Eric Fryer to a minor league contract. It’s possible that the deal will carry an invitation to spring training, but the 27-year-old backstop won’t stand much of a chance of cracking the Opening Day roster with Joe Mauer and Drew Butera already locked in for the 2013 campaign.

Fryer made only five plate appearance with the Pirates this past season, netting one single. He batted .204/.257/.247 with no home runs, 10 RBI and seven total extra-base hits in 65 games at Triple-A Indianapolis.

The Twins have also agreed to a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Tim Wood.

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.