So who’s more important: the drug users or the drug dealers?

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Following up on the whole discipline angle from the last post, it definitely seems like more is going to happen before there is either any legal action or baseball disciplinary action in the A-Rod case. I mean, last I checked we don’t prosecute people based on newspaper articles alone.

But what that next step is will be extremely interesting. Because it will tell us whether Major League Baseball and the DEA is more interested in drug users or drug dealers.

Back in the Mitchell Report days, MLB, George Mitchell and federal agents went to the drug dealers first and gave them various degrees of immunity. Why? Because no one cared about drug dealers. The Mitchell Report, as I wrote at length back in the day, was a public relations exercise and everyone involved wanted to get the names of PED-using players out in the open. The league wanted to look like it was taking action, George Mitchell wanted prestige and billable hours for his law firm and the feds wanted some big, celebrity heads on pikes.  This, by the way, is a lot of the reason why the lowest hanging fruit was picked back then and guys like A-Rod and Biogenesis went unmentioned.

But what now?  Once again we have MLB and the DEA pursuing PEDs. Based on the Miami New Times report, the next obvious move for law enforcement is to either get players like A-Rod, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Gio Gonzalez and others in a room to talk about the clinic’s possibly illegal prescriptions or else to get the clinic’s operators in to talk about the users. That’s how the next phase of this has to go.

Will the DEA decide to pursue distributors or end users? Will MLB seek out the quickest means to get “just cause” suspension evidence on the players, or will it attempt to learn everything it can about what may very well be the biggest pipeline of drugs into its sport?

The choices that are made about all of this in the coming days will tell us a lot about the league’s and the feds’ priorities.

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.