The Tampa Bay Rays have selected the contract of LHP reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham, according to the team (via Twitter).
This one is really fun.
We’ve selected LH Jonny Venters from Triple-A @DurhamBulls.
His last major league game was 2,028 days and 3.5 Tommy John surgeries ago. pic.twitter.com/IvgLMZMzJ4
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 25, 2018
When the southpaw makes his debut for Tampa Bay, it will be his first big league appearance in 2,028 days (back in 2012) when he was a part of the Atlanta Braves relief staff. At that point Venters was a star setup man for the Braves before elbow injuries decimated his career. Venters has had three Tommy John surgeries in his career as well as a “reattachment” procedure in 2016.
The southpaw first burst onto the scene in 2010, when he worked to a combined 1.89 ERA with 9.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and roughly 70% ground-ball rate in his first two big league seasons with the Braves. Yet he regressed in 2012, although Venters still turned in a strong 3.22 ERA with similar K/BB numbers and a slightly diminished ground-ball rate over 58-2/3 innings before his elbow injury.
Following the procedures, Venters shut himself down from 2013-16, yet he began his comeback after he received encouragement from both his family and his doctor. Since 2016 he has tossed 27-2/3 rehab innings, and most recently had been at Triple-A Durham where he posted a 1.59 ERA in five games (5-2/3 innings), after a strong showing in Spring Training.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 25, 2018
Venters was humbled and happy to make it back, saying:
It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling, said Venters. It’s been an emotional day.
Venters will join Jose Alvardo and Ryan Yarbrough as left-handed options in the Rays bullpen for the time being. Kevin Cash said the team plans to use Venters as a LOOGY, although he shouldn’t have any limitations. It is thought that he could make his debut with the Rays on Wednesday, when they take on the Orioles in Baltimore.
Tampa Bay had an open spot on the 40-man roster following the DFA of Brandon Snyder, so a move isn’t needed to accommodate Venters’ promotion. RHP Hunter Wood has been optioned to Triple-A to clear a spot on the 25-man roster.
— Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) made mention of the significance of the promotion:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Venters will be the first All-Star to return to the major leagues after missing at least 5 years – 5 years, 202 days if he pitches today – since P Justin Thompson, a 1997 All-Star who returned with Texas on Aug 18, 2005 for his first game since Aug 15, 1999, a gap of 6 years, 3 days.
Per the Rays, the last player to get back to the majors after missing 5 years or more was St, Louis’ Chad Huffman. He came June 8, 2017, his first game since July 3, 2010 (a span of 6 years, 340 days). The last pitcher to get abck after missing 5 years or more was the White Sox’s Gregory Infante on May 15, 2017, which was his first game since Oct 1, 2010 (6 years, 226 days).