All-Star roster fun: McCann, Melancon, Romo, Balfour, Holland, Tillman added

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The weekend preceding the All-Star Game festivities is always fun because the list of actual All-Stars expands by about ten players as injured players step down and would-be snubs finally get their call. Today, American League Sunday starters Bartolo Colon of the Athletics, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners, and Justin Verlander of the Tigers were declared inactive for the All-Star Game. Replacing them are Athletics reliever Grant Balfour, Royals reliever Greg Holland, and Orioles starter Chris Tillman.

On the National League side of things, Braves first baseman and NL Final Vote winner Freddie Freeman, Pirates starter Jeff Locke, and Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann were declared inactive. Their replacements include Braves catcher Brian McCann, Pirates reliever Mark Melancon, and Giants reliever Sergio Romo.

NL All-Stars Adam Wainwright and Travis Wood start against each other tonight, so both will need to be replaced by manager Bruce Bochy as well.

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.