From our friend Nick Collias of MLB Trade Rumors was reading the Dominican Republic newspaper El Caribe this morning and passes along a pretty interesting interview with Rays closer Fernando Rodney. Who is going to play in the World Baseball Classic for the D.R. and does not care what the Rays have to say about it. From Collias:
Fernando Rodney was asked if he’s playing by Neftali Ruiz at the dominican paper El Caribe
and said, “I want to represent the country. It will be a pleasure to be there in the dominican uniform.” Asked about gaining permission from the Rays, Rodney replied, “You don’t have to ask permission to represent your country.”
I’ve not yet seen any reports about teams discouraging, let alone ordering their players against playing in the WBC, but it’s interesting to see Rodney heading this off at the pass.
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.