Royals sign Brad Penny to a minor league deal

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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish is reporting that the Royals have signed free agent starter Brad Penny to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Penny will be one of eight pitchers invited to big league camp with the Royals.

After a disappointing 2012 season, in which he posted a 6.11 ERA pitching out of the bullpen with the Giants, Penny took a year off from baseball. According to Cotillo, the 35-year-old right-hander impressed scouts enough to merit a minor league deal. He’ll be working as a starter, but could once again pitch in as a reliever if the Royals deem it necessary.

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.