Astros claim Ryan Jackson off waivers from Cardinals

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For much of the season Cardinals fans complained that the team never gave Triple-A shortstop Ryan Jackson a shot to replace Pete Kozma and now he’ll never get the chance.

He was claimed off waivers by the Astros, whose general manager Jeff Luhnow ran the Cardinals’ farm system when Jackson was drafted in the fifth round.

Jackson hardly projects as an impact player, but he’s considered a quality defensive shortstop and has hit .275 with a .714 OPS in 238 games at Triple-A. Last time the Astros claimed a Cardinals shortstop it was Tyler Greene and that didn’t go so well, but Jackson probably has a pretty good opportunity to win an Opening Day roster spot in Houston.

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.