Manny Ramirez’s time in Taiwan is over

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Brandon DuBreuil of the Manny Does Taiwan blog passes along some Asian news reports which say that Manny Ramirez has been removed from the roster of the Taiwanese team for which he has been playing and will leave the country on June 21. There are mixed reports about why he is leaving, with some saying he will be going to Japan. Whether that is to play for an NPB team or if Japan merely figures in his travel plans is unclear.

As DuBreuil noted in his feature on Ramirez in Taiwan over at Sports on Earth yesterday, Ramirez has been a boon to the EDA Rhinos team for which he has been playing and the Chinese Professional Baseball League as a whole. His team has gone from last place to near the top of the division since he’s arrived and attendance has increased a crazy 412% with TV ratings jumping 221%. Ramirez is near the top of the league in batting average, homers, RBIs and walks.

It’ll be interesting to see if his success in Taiwan has led to a chance to play in Japan. And if so, it’ll be interesting to see if he can still perform at the considerably higher level that the NPB represents.

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.