It has been four years and three Tommy John surgeries since relief pitcher Jonny Venters left the Atlanta Braves. Venters returned to the major league level in April, and on Thursday, he came back to the Braves.
The Tampa Bay Rays traded Venters to the Braves for international slot money. The move gives Atlanta more help in what has been a shaky bullpen and brings Venters back to Atlanta, where he spent the first three seasons of his major league career.
In 22 games for the Rays this season, Venters was 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts.
“(Jonny’s) stuff’s been good,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos told radio station 680 The Fan. “Obviously, everyone in Atlanta knows him very well. Velocity’s good, sink is still outstanding and that’s reflected in the ground ball rates. We can use some help from the left side”
Venters made his major league debut with the Braves in April 2010 and quickly established himself as an important part of the back-end of the Braves bullpen alongside Craig Kimbrel. Venters went 15-10 with a 2.23 ERA and 258 strikeouts over the next three seasons and was named an All-Star in 2011.
As promising as Venters’ rise became, injuries quickly derailed his career.
After suffering from discomfort his left elbow in 2013, Venters was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery that May. It ended his 2013 campaign and marked the second time he had undergone the procedure after having done so as a minor leaguer in 2005.
Venters re-signed with the Braves in 2014, but the injury bug bit again. Following several setbacks in his recovery, it was determined that August he would have to undergo a third Tommy John surgery. The Braves designated Venters for assignment that November and released him.
Venters signed a minor league deal with Tampa Bay in 2015 and narrowly missed having to have a fourth Tommy John surgery. Despite being hindered with another torn ulnar collateral ligament, he re-signed with the team in 2017. In April 2018, the Rays called Venters up from Triple-A Durham, bringing him back to the major league level for the first time since 2012.