Josh Hamilton feeling no improvement in sore ribs

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Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton was given a rare double-dose of cortisone injections on Wednesday of this week in the area of his sore ribcage.  It hasn’t helped.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, the injured MVP candidate felt the same Saturday as he did on Wednesday and is not optimistic about his chances of returning before the end of September.

“Obviously the best-case scenario is getting back and getting a good
last week of the regular season … get some at-bats,” said Hamilton. “At the moment, I
don’t see that happening.”

Right now, this isn’t a major issue.  The Rangers are up 9.5 games over the A’s in the American League West and Hamilton has already turned in a season worthy of baseball’s greatest awards.  But if the lingering rib soreness affects his readiness for the postseason — which it most likely will — Texas’ starting lineup won’t be nearly as frightening in a five- or seven-game setting.

Hamtilon, 29, has posted a major league-leading .361 batting average, 31 home runs and 97 RBI in 507 at-bats this season while showing excellent range in center field.

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.