Jonny Venters Completes Long Journey Back To Big Leagues

Venters Returns To MLB After 2,028 Day Absence 

Jonny Venters had not pitched in a big league game since the 2012 NL Wild Card game while he was a member of the Atlanta Braves. He underwent Tommy John surgies in 2005, 2013, and 2014.  In 2016, he underwent an additional, “half-Tommy John” by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays recalled Venters from Triple-A Durham.  To make room on the roster, Hunter Wood was optioned.

Venters arrived at Durham Bulls Athletic Park early in the morning as the Bulls had a 10:30 a.m. first pitch against the Buffalo Bison. The game was delayed by rain and while waiting for the tarp to come off the field he was told that he was being recalled by the Rays.

“It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling. It’s been an emotional day,” Venters told reporters. “I’m excited to be here. Grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully go out and get some people out today.”

He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning to face Chris Davis. He retired Davis on a groundball to third baseman Daniel Robertson on four pitches.

According to an online Tommy John database compiled by Jon Roegele of FanGraphs, Venters is the first pitcher ever to return to the majors after three Tommy John surgeries

Per the Elias Sports Bureau:
  • Venters is the first All-Star to return to the major leagues after missing at least 5 years (5 years, 202 days) since 1997 All-Star Justin Thompson. Thompson who returned with Texas on Aug 18, 2005. It was his first game since Aug 15, 1999, a gap of 6 years, 3 days.
  • The last player to return to the majors after missing 5 years or more was St Louis Cardinal Chad Huffman. He returned on June 8, 2017, his first game since July 3, 2010 (6 years, 340 days).
  • The last pitcher to return to the majors after missing 5 years or more was Chicago White Sox Gregory Infante. He made his return on May 15, 2017, his first game since October 1, 2010 (6 years, 226 days).

The Road Back:

On March 11, 2015 the Rays signed him to a minor league deal. They had hoped to be the beneficiary of a long and patient rehab process. He continued his rehab and crawled back on top of the mound at George Steinbrenner Field on June 4, 2016. That night, he logged an inning with the Rays High-A affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs.

It was his first live game action since he took the mound on October 3, 2012 for the Atlanta Braves against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, the feel good story wouldn’t last.  Venters comeback was cut short after hurting his elbow in an outing for the Crabs on June 20th. He had a fourth surgery on his elbow to re-attach a ligament, by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

It was a surprise to see him rejoin the Rays in 2017 and continue to attempt a comeback from 3 1/2 Tommy John Surgeries, but Venters was determined. Overall, in 2017 across the Rays minor leagues in 2017 he was able to log 23.2-innings in 24 games striking out 11 batters per nine innings.

In five games with the Durham Bulls this season, Venters has worked 5.2-innings allowing 1-earned run while striking out six and walking five.



I am a fan of all sports but am most passionate about baseball. From the fanatical to analytical, nothing about the game escapes me. Being born and raised in Northeast Ohio I'm very familiar with the heartache and pain that sports can bring and hope that I bring some understanding of the other side to my coverage. I will focus mostly on baseball but also cover the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of the most electric franchises in all of sports. Always willing to converse about any sport and have only one rule and that is be respectful at all times.