Mark McGwire remembers the 1984 Olympic baseball team

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Over at NBC OlympicTalk, Nick Zaccardi interviews Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire — and goes back over some of McGwire’s older interviews — to tell the story of baseball’s debut as an Olympic sport in Los Angeles in 1984.

It was a demonstration sport then, but Topps made some memorable baseball cards out of it all and there were a lot of big names on that squad for the United States. So many, in fact, that future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin was a bench warmer. And with McGwire playing first base, Will Clark was pressed into duty in the outfield. Imagine everyone’s surprise, then, that the U.S. didn’t win the gold.

The good stuff there are McGwire’s anecdotes, from the funny story behind his Olympic baseball card to some thoughts on whether, if he had it to do over again, he’d still have joined up for the U.S. 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.