Must-click link: Chris Duncan’s fight against cancer

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Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a fantastic and, at turns, hopeful, touching and sad story up today about former Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan’s battle with a brain tumor.

Strauss — who is the exact opposite of a sentimental writer, for good and for bad — is the perfect guy for this kind of story. There is emotion in it and, coming through his filter, you know it is genuine.  Highly recommended.

Human nature is such that we are always tempted to relate things to our own experiences. In this regard, I am reminded that I was on Duncan’s St. Louis radio show last year and had a wonderful time. Someone had told him about how my daughter decided that his brother Shelley was her favorite player, so we spent a long time talking about that. Not everyone likes hearing stories about someone else’s children, but Chris seemed genuinely tickled by it and loved the opportunity to take some good-natured shots at his brother.

Anyway, go read this story. And have some good thoughts for Chris Duncan.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.