Felix Hernandez named American League starter

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Mike Matheny’s decision over in the National League was a tough one, but American League manager John Farrell had an easy call for tomorrow night’s starter: Felix Hernandez.

Seattle’s ace will start the All-Star game after going 11-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts, including a 154/25 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Chris Sale is the only AL starter with a lower ERA than Hernandez, but the gap is 2.08 versus 2.12 and Hernandez has thrown 50 more innings.

This is Hernandez’s fifth All-Star game, but his first start at age 28. He won the Cy Young award in 2010, but not only didn’t he start the All-Star game that season … he didn’t even make the All-Star team.

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.