Blue Jays claim Pat Venditte off waivers

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The Toronto Blue Jays signed reliever Pat Venditte to a contract after claiming him off waivers from the Oakland Athletics. They designated Darwin Barney for assignment to make room for him.

Venditte was no great shakes in the bigs in his first season, posting a 4.40 ERA in 28 and two-thirds innings while striking out 23 and walking 12. But he’s fun at least given that he’s ambidextrous and throws with each arm. If only he threw with them a bit better, he’d have a better chance to stick someplace.

He’ll not be on the Blue Jays’ playoff roster, of course. But he has already gifted Jays beat writers an easy story next spring by virtue of his presence at training camp in Dunedin.

Tim Tebow homers in spring training game

Tim Tebow
Mark Brown/Getty Images
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Mets minor league outfielder Tim Tebow hit a two-run home run during Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Tigers. It’s his first spring training home run since beginning his professional baseball career in late 2016.

Tebow, 32, is, of course, a former college football legend. He had a much-anticipated NFL career that ended up brief and disappointing, prompting a change of vocation. Tebow was passable with Double-A Binghamton in 2018, but the Mets promoted him to Triple-A for the 2019 season anyway. That was a mistake. Through 264 plate appearances, Tebow hit .163/.240/.255, ranking as the worst hitter in the minor leagues.

Tebow also walked along with the homer in three plate appearances on Tuesday. While it’s a solid early showing, Tebow participating with the other big leaguers or soon-to-be big leaguers in spring training is something of a sideshow. If he were a regular ballplayer working his way up the ranks, he likely would have been cut after last season. He certainly wouldn’t have been given an invitation to big league camp the next year.

There are aspects of the Tebow situation to respect: that he’s athletic and dedicated enough to attempt a professional career in another sport, for example. He moves tickets and merchandise. But one can’t help but wonder about the roster spot he’s holding that would otherwise go to a more deserving player.