Jose Valverde’s trek back to the majors involved throwing two innings in an extended spring training scrimmage against the Canadian junior national team yesterday.
Jason Beck of MLB.com reports that the 35-year-old former closer held a bunch of 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds hitless while getting four of the six outs via strikeout.
After failing to find guaranteed big-league work all offseason Valverde signed a minor-league deal with the Tigers two weeks ago. He has a May 5 opt-out clause, so the Tigers are expected to send him to Triple-A at some point to more accurately evaluate his ability to pitch against hitters who’re, say, legally allowed to drink.
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.