After multiple Tommy John surgeries, Jonny Venters gets first save since '11

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jonny Venters recorded his first save since August 22, 2011, striking out the only batter he faced on Monday to close out a 13-inning, 1-0 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Venters returned to baseball on April 26 after six years and multiple Tommy John surgeries. The 33-year-old left-hander hadn't pitched since the 2012 NL wild-card game.

"It's been a while, but there's always a certain level of excitement when you get that last out," Venters said. "I was glad I was able to get it done. These guys were awesome today. Big win, good win."

Venters struck out Oakland's Matt Olson swinging, retiring the first baseman on a 94 mph fastball. The last time Venters recorded a save, the winning pitcher was Jair Jurrjens, and the last batter he faced for the save was Alfonso Soriano.

With the Rays having traded closer Alex Colome to the Seattle Mariners on Friday, they might be leaning more on Venters. In 8 2/3 innings this season, Venters has a 1.04 ERA with two walks, six strikeouts and a 0.69 WHIP.

Venters had his first Tommy John surgery in 2005, when he was in Class A with the Braves. He made his way back and joined the Braves' big league team in 2010. Venters compiled a 1.89 ERA over the next two years, striking out 27 percent of the batters he faced.

In spring 2013, Venters tore his UCL and had his second Tommy John surgery. He was making his way back in 2014 when he got the word from Dr. James Andrews that he would need a third surgery.

Venters likes to say that he has had three-and-a-half Tommy John procedures. He was signed by the Rays in 2015, but in 2016, he tore his UCL again. Rather than going through a fourth Tommy John surgery, Venters had surgery to reattach the ligament.