Adam Loewen returns to Blue Jays on minor league deal

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For a brief time last winter there was some talk of pitcher-turned-outfielder Adam Loewen winning an Opening Day job with the Mets, but instead he spent the season at Triple-A and didn’t play particularly well.

Loewen left as a free agent and has returned to the Blue Jays, agreeing to a minor-league deal. Loewen is Canadian and played in Toronto’s minor-league system from 2009-2011 after his pitching career with Baltimore ended.

Time is running out for Loewen to stick in the majors as a position player, because he’s now 29 years old and the former No. 4 overall pick in the 2002 draft and one-time top pitching prospect has already spent two seasons at Triple-A, hitting .283 with 25 homers and an .837 OPS in 196 games.

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.