Dodgers place Rafael Furcal on disabled list with back injury

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As expected, the Dodgers have placed Rafael Furcal on the disabled list with a strained lower back and called up Juan Castro from Triple-A to replace him on the roster.
After sitting out part of April and most of May with a hamstring injury Furcal hit .319/.381/.518 with eight homers, 26 total extra-base hits, 10 steals, and 41 runs in 57 games before landing back on the shelf.
He hasn’t played since August 2 and the DL stint is retroactive, so he’ll be eligible to return next week if healthy. Jamey Carroll will continue to fill in for Furcal at shortstop, with Castro serving as a utility man.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.