Would the Pirates send Gerrit Cole back to the minors?

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Gerrit Cole is 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA through three career starts, walking just one batter in 18 innings while throwing 101 miles per hour and defeating Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum, and Jered Weaver.

And apparently the Pirates might send him back to the minors. General manager Neal Huntington said on his radio show Sunday that demoting Cole would make “smart business sense” once the Pirates’ other starters are healthy.

Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes that part of the move would simply be due to Cole having minor-league options and the Pirates having six starters for five spots, but sending the former No. 1 pick back to the minors would also limit his service time enough for Cole to avoid “Super 2” arbitration status down the line.

For now it’s a moot point, as Wandy Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett are both on the disabled list, but the clock is ticking on Cole’s first taste of the big leagues.

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.