Giants bring back Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa opted for free agency after being dropped by the Pirates earlier this week and now he’s found a new home, signing a minor-league deal with the Giants.

Ishikawa is returning to his original team. He was drafted by the Giants in 2002 and spent a decade in the organization, logging a bunch of time in the minors and a total of 665 plate appearances spread over brief stints in the majors.

Brandon Belt is entrenched as the Giants’ starting first baseman now and light-hitting, defensive-minded first basemen aren’t particularly great bench options, but Ishikawa could find his way back to San Francisco at some point this season.

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.