Rich Hill joins Red Sox after death of newborn son

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Non-roster left-hander Rich Hill had been away from the Red Sox since the start of camp due to a family health issue. On Thursday, he arrived in camp and elaborated on his absence, passing along the sad news that his newborn son has died.

“€œWe had a son on December 26 and he was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with, as we were moving through the last couple of months at Mass General,”€ Hill told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “Unfortunately he succumbed and he has passed. He taught us a lot of things, and unfortunately things didn’t work out.”

Hill made the trip to Florida with his wife and 2 1/2-year-old son, and they’ll remain together as the southpaw attempts to win a spot in the Boston bullpen.

The 33-year-old Hill, who was born in Boston, spent parts of three seasons with the Red Sox before joining the Indians a year ago. He had a 6.28 ERA in Cleveland, though that came with 51 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings. He chose to return to Boston in part due to family reasons. “€œIt was a strong correlation there,” Hill said. “€œFortunately I had the opportunity to come back. The Red Sox have been tremendous with this whole part of our life.”

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.