The Nationals are too macho for their own good

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Don’t blame me for the word “macho,” which I thought went away when “Three’s Company” went off the year. Boswell uses it. But at least he uses it in the service of a good point:

Nothing in baseball is trickier than figuring out how to handle small day-to-day injuries that can quickly turn into four- to six-week trips to the DL. After 38 seasons of covering baseball, I don’t think anybody is much good at it. But you can spot patterns and problems. Whether consciously or not, the Nats have developed an ultra-macho team culture of playing with “minor” injuries. While the Nats are conservative in recovery protocols after major surgeries, they seem to be just the opposite in dealing with “dings.” It’s not working. And it’s contributing to killing their 28-29 season.

Boswell gives numerous examples of banged-up Nats players whose effectiveness seems to have been hampered by injuries that probably should have landed them on the disabled list.

Boswell doesn’t put too fine a point on who is to blame, however. He politely notes that, perhaps, Mike Rizzo’s assessment of players’ ouchies has not been accurate. He talks about a culture that Davey Johnson has created of players being hard-nosed. He also gives voice to Rizzo’s comments that maybe the players aren’t playing “smart” with injuries.

But as with the case with the Mets a few years ago, isn’t this also an issue for the medical staff? Are they doing their job? Is Rizzo pulling the trigger fast enough on DL calls? Is Johnson’s “World Series of Bust” pronouncement from the spring being taken far too literally? And is the team doing anything about 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.