Cardinals officially add A.J. Pierzynski; designate George Kottaras for assignment

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Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch passes along word that the Cardinals have officially signed veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski and will have him available for today’s game against the Cubs. George Kottaras, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians in the wake of Yadier Molina’s torn thumb ligament, has been designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster.

Pierzynski was cut loose by the Red Sox last month after he batted just .254/.286/.348 with four home runs and 31 RBI over 72 games. The 37-year-old backstop also apparently wasn’t very popular among his teammates.

Tony Cruz has received most of the playing time since Molina’s injury, but Pierzynski provides a veteran alternative down the stretch. The Cardinals will only have to pay him a prorated portion of the major league minimum.

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.