No one would blame veteran left-hander Jonny Venters if he tapped out, so to speak, following last month’s shoulder surgery. The 34-year-old has already undergone three Tommy John surgeries and a fourth elbow procedure in his career, won 2018 Comeback Player of the Year honors, been named to an All-Star team and pitched in parts of three separate postseasons. Venters, though, in an excellent interview with Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post, indicated that he plans to at least try to continue his career.
“I’ll probably give it all I can and hope for the best,” the lefty said roughly a month after his fifth major arm surgery. “And if it doesn’t [work out], we’ll figure something else out, you know?”
Venters’ latest procedure repaired a torn capsule in his left shoulder and will keep from throwing a baseball until at least December. He’ll assuredly have to sign a minor league contract somewhere in hopes of eventually proving himself capable of pitching on a big league mound once again, but the southpaw is surely accustomed to that sort of free-agent experience by now. He’s already signed four minor league contracts since undergoing his first major surgery.
Venters went more than a half decade between Major League appearances in 2012 and 2018, eventually working his way back from those four elbow surgeries to give the Rays and Braves 34 1/3 sharp innings last year. He’d arguably have been deserving of Comeback Player of the Year honors simply for getting back to a mound and appearing in 50 games — regardless of the results. It certainly didn’t hurt, however, that he not only capped off his near-miraculous return to the mound but picked back up as an effective bullpen piece; the tenacious lefty turned in a 3.67 ERA with a 27-to-16 K/BB ratio and a sky-high 69.1 percent grounder rate in that time.
The 2019 season clearly didn’t go as well for Venters. He walked eight men and served up three big flies through his first 4 2/3 innings before being released by the Braves, and his Nationals tenure was both brief and lackluster. He appeared in just three games for the Nats and allowed a pair of earned runs on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings.