Jonny Venters of the Braves pitches against the Giants at AT&T Park on Sept. 12, 2018 in San Francisco. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jonny Venters win NL comeback player of the year

Jonny Venters’ latest comeback will be complete with a plaque.

Venters was named National League comeback player of the year Tuesday, acknowledgement of a career that’s had plenty of comebacks.

After overcoming four elbow surgeries, three of which were Tommy John, Venters returned to the majors in 2018 with the Rays. He battled through surgeries in 2005, 2013 and 2014 before needing additional surgery for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in 2016. 

Since appearing in 66 games for the Braves in 2012, Venters hadn’t pitched in a major league game until 2018.

He appeared in 22 games for Tampa Bay, accumulating a 3.86 ERA, before getting an emotional call home: The Braves needed a boost to their bullpen, and the Rays wanted to put Venters in an ideal situation. Tampa Bay traded him back to the Braves in late July.

The lefty pitched for the franchise from 2010-12, earning a 2.23 ERA over 230 appearances before injuries derailed his career. He was a fan favorite for his demeanor and production.

Venters was exceptional particularly in 2011, when he appeared in 85 games and warranted an All-Star nod. He paired with Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty to form one of the best backends in Braves history.

The family never left metro Atlanta, even as Venters attempted his comeback in Florida. When he was dealt back, they’d come full circle. Venters became an important part of the Braves’ bullpen down the stretch, providing 20-1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.54. 

“It felt good to be home,” Venters said after his first game back. “To put that uniform on again was a special feeling for me. I am just grateful to be here.”

This is the second consecutive year a reliever won NL comeback player of the year. Greg Holland, once an All-Star with the Royals, won it in 2017 for his work with Colorado. Venters is the first Brave to win the honor since Tim Hudson in 2010.

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