Bochy: Tim Lincecum “all set to go”

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Giants starter Tim Lincecum, dealing with a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand, received the thumbs-up from manager Bruce Bochy. The right-hander missed two starts due to the condition, but felt good after throwing a simulated game to Brock Bond, Gary Brown, and Nick Noonan.

Via MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Lincecum explains his frustration:

“You kind of get into the rhythm of things when spring starts and then all of a sudden you run into something like this, especially as stupid as this can be, that keeps you from doing something that you should be doing all day and every day,” Lincecum said. “But to get back out there and know that it’s not going to be an issue from here on out — at least I hope it’s not — makes me feel good.”

After posting a collective 2.81 ERA between 2008-11, Lincecum drew concern after finishing the 2012 regular season with a 5.18 ERA. Part of that, as Doug Thorburn of Baseball Prospectus points out, was “rooted in conditioning; he lacked the athleticism necessary to consistently coordinate the 80-grade momentum that has become his trademark, while a lack of timing sapped the efficiency of his torque”. The Giants moved their former ace to the bullpen for the post-season; he made just one start in Game Four of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lincecum his hoping to put his 2012 season behind him and move on, returning as one of the top pitchers in baseball.

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.