Getting to Know: Jonny Venters
While the Rays were playing in Lakeland on Tuesday, two pitchers were in Port Charlotte, taking another step forward in their rehab from Tommy John surgery. Jonny Venters and Neil Wagner each threw their first bullpen this spring.
Venters, who is trying to recover from his third Tommy John surgery (something only Jason Isringhausen, Josh Johnson and Jose Rijo have done prior), threw bullpens in September and October in Instructional League, then had for him a more normal off-season as he got ready for 2016.
When healthy, he was one of the best relievers in baseball, going 15–10 with the Braves with a 2.23 ERA and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
If healthy, Venters can certainly be a big help to the Rays, and draws raves from Tampa Bay, as well as Atlanta, for his positive influence in a clubhouse.
The Rays are taking it slowly with Venters. His first bullpen included about 20 pitches, all fastballs, and he will throw another pen (as will Wagner) on Friday. However, if he continues on his upward trend, Venters certainly could help the Rays bullpen at some point this season.
We discussed his bullpen session, and his spring in Rays camp:
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/251014098" params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166" iframe=”true” /]
If Venters does join the Rays it will be his first game since the 2012 NL wildcard game, and it would probably be one of the better comeback stories of 2016.