Shaun Marcum pulled from Mets’ spring rotation so that he can “strengthen his shoulder”

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MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo has the story:

Right-hander Shaun Marcum has temporarily stepped out of the Mets’ Grapefruit League rotation, but is not injured. [Manager Terry Collins] said Marcum wants to concentrate on a long-toss program designed to strengthen his shoulder, which gave him trouble last spring. He will return to game action in early to mid-March.

The Mets aren’t calling it a setback, but it definitely is. Marcum allowed four hits and three earned runs over two innings Saturday in his Grapefruit League debut against the Nationals and clearly isn’t anywhere close to full health.

Marcum dealt with both elbow and shoulder issues in 2012 and was limited to 124 innings.

He signed a one-year, $4 million free agent contract with the Mets this offseason.

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.