Jonny Venter will forever be synonymous with word one word: perseverance.
After undergoing 3.5 Tommy John surgeries and rehabbing over a five-year stretch, Jonny Venters finally made his way back onto a major league roster.
Prior to the 2018 season, the last time Venters threw a major league pitch, Chipper Jones was in the starting lineup. By the time that Venters was back up in the big leagues, Chipper Jones was being inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Prior to that, Venters had been among the most dominant relievers in all of baseball over a three-year stretch and helped significantly shorten games for the Braves and played a huge role in them making it into the postseason in 2010 and 2012.
Venters opened the 2013 season the disabled list, as he was dealing with elbow discomfort. He tried to avoid surgery, but ultimately had to go under the knife and endure the second Tommy John surgery of his career. Unfortunately, during his rehab from the surgery, Venters tore his UCL yet again and had to suffer through a third Tommy John surgery. The Atlanta Braves released him shortly thereafter, allowing the Rays to sign him to a two-year minor league deal, giving him time to rehab from the surgery and hopefully help them out down the road.
The Rays signed Venters, in March of 2015.
In July, 2016, Venters was rehabbing with the Charlotte Stone Crabs and excelling. He had diminished velocity, but was still in the low-90’s with good movement.
Again, his body failed him as his UCL tore once more.
However, this time, Venters opted for a different type of surgery.
Venters rehabbed and progressed through the Rays system and by September, 2017, he was ready.
But, the call never came and the season ended.
Venters became a free agent.
He signed once more with the Rays, as the organization had stuck with him throughout his rehab and allowed him to keep at his seemingly ridiculous comeback attempt.
As spring training came to a close this past March, Venters was reassigned to Durham, but again elected to stay with the Rays.
In May, Venters’ hard work and determination finally paid off, as he received the call that he was heading to the big leagues for the first time since October 2012.
Venters debuted in Baltimore and enticed a groundball from the first hitter he faced. He went on to be a fantastic reliever (and a less than fantastic opener) with the Rays during the first half of the 2018 season. As the trade deadline approached, the Rays traded Venters back to his original organization, the Atlanta Braves, for international slot money.
Venters’ story is among the most incredible in sports history and he is absolutely the most deserving player of this award.