Rays add Jamie Nelson as assistant hitting coach

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Yet another team has decided to go with two hitting coaches, as the Rays promoted minor league staffer Jamie Nelson to the assistant hitting coach role under primary hitting coach Derek Shelton.

Nelson has been managing and coaching in the Rays’ farm system for 13 years and will also be tasked with working specifically with catchers.

“Assistant hitting coach” was all but unheard of just a few years ago, but now nearly half the teams employ one and this offseason has seen the number rise dramatically.

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.