Josh Hamilton continues to eye weekend return

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Working out before Tuesday’s game, Josh Hamilton took 20 swings off a tee and 20 more of the soft-toss variety as he continues his comeback from two fractured ribs.
Hamilton said he swung with about 60-percent effort and labeled it “a good day,” according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. He also shagged flyballs in the outfield during batting practice.
Hamilton said he expects to take more swings tomorrow. The MVP candidate hasn’t played since Sept. 4, but he hopes to see some action in games this weekend before hopefully reclaiming his permanent lineup spot in the postseason.

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.