The “Killbillies” vs. the “Thump Monkeys”

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Because you always wanted to know how Ned Yost spends his offseason, Brett Frazee of the KC Star goes and visits the Royals manager at his offseason home in western Georgia.

Actually, you do want to know about this. You want to know that Yost lives in the same neighborhood as comedian Jeff Foxworthy and that the two of them go hunting all the time. And that when they do they name all the deer they kill, including one after Billy Butler, which should totally make Butler feel comfortable turning his back on Yost in the clubhouse.  Oh, and then there’s the part how J.D. Drew, Kevin Millwood and Jon Lester all live in the same neighborhood and go hunting with them too. They even have hunting teams and compete against one another. The teams are called “The Killbillies” and “The Thump Monkeys.”

Ballplayers: they’re just like you and me!

Also: dibs on “The Killbillies” as my fantasy team name this year.

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.