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Derek Norris denies abuse claims of his ex-fiancee

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Yesterday, the former fiancee of Rays’ catcher Derek Norris claimed on her personal Instagram account that she suffered physical and mental abuse from Norris (she did not mention him by name, but her description strongly suggests that she’s referring to Norris). ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported a few hours later that Major League Baseball had launched an official investigation pursuant to its domestic violence policy.

Today Norris issued a statement to the Tampa Bay Times denying the allegations:

“First, I want to be absolutely clear that abuse of any form, is completely unacceptable. Allegations regarding this issue are a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly under any circumstances. That being said, in this circumstance, the comments made by my ex-fiancee could not be further from the truth. I have NEVER been physically or emotionally abusive towards her, or anyone else in my life. … I plan to go above and beyond to assist MLB with their investigation into this matter.”

As we have often noted since MLB adopted its policy, neither investigations nor punishments under the policy are dependent upon arrests, criminal charges or criminal conviction. We will, presumably, hear nothing more about this until MLB has completed its investigation.

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.