How much longer can Blue Jays stick with Ricky Romero?

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Minor elbow surgery, plasma injections in both knees, and mechanical adjustments were supposed to address whatever ailed Ricky Romero during his disastrous 2012 season, but the Blue Jays left-hander is still struggling.

Pitching in a minor-league game yesterday Romero walked five batters, struck out zero, and allowed four runs in 2.1 innings. He also has a 7.27 ERA and more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) in four starts in major-league games this spring, looking an awful lot like the guy who went 1-13 with a 7.35 ERA in his final 17 starts last season.

Following the game general manager Alex Anthopoulos answered all sorts of questions about Romero’s status without really saying anything definitive, but after previously ruling out a demotion to the minors he seemingly left that door open a bit this time:

We haven’t talked about it at all. Obviously we evaluate it start by start. We’ve said we have our five starters, he’s one of our five starters. As we go through it, the first conversation I’ve had about it is right now. I’ll talk to Gibby, talk to Pete, we’ll talk to the player as well. We haven’t had any change of plans, the plans are still the same but just like anything else you’re constantly evaluating.

At some point you can’t just keep trotting Romero out there every fifth day to walk everyone and/or get his brains beat in, especially since the Blue Jays have serious playoff aspirations this season and no shortage of rotation depth.

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.