Mental makeup matters for the Rays

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There’s no database that quantifies which team has the most knuckleheads on it. Anecdotally, however, it kinda feels like the Rays do. They’ve had a number of high-profile bad citizens — and worse — over the years. Josh Sale, Matt Bush, Toe Nash, imports like Josh Lueke and Yunel Escobar and many others have had bad character and sometimes criminal moments either with the Rays or before they got there. It’s enough to lead one to conclude that, when you’re trying to squeeze that extra 2% out of limited resources, things like preferring standup guys have to go by the wayside.

But the Rays say it’s not so. Marc Topkin talks to Rays officials as they approach the draft and they all note that, while predicting who is going to be a jerk and who isn’t is tough business, it’s business they take seriously:

“It’s something that is very important in our process,” Friedman said. “We talk about it a lot. We try to break up onfield makeup and off-the-field makeup … It’s something that is critical to how we’ve done things in the past and will continue to be.”

Maybe they’ve just had some bad luck. Maybe we’re just cherry picking the Rays’ character lapses and not noticing them as much on other teams.  But at least their front office is aware of it.

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.