A.J. Burnett prepares for ALCS start with simulated game

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A.J. Burnett went unused in the ALDS, but the Yankees will need him to make one start in the ALCS. He hasn’t pitched since October 2, so to shake some of the rust off Burnett is scheduled to throw four or five innings in a simulated game today.
Javier Vazquez and Chad Gaudin will also get some work in after being left off the ALDS roster, but Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger notes that Game 1 starter CC Sabathia “will stick to throwing extra side sessions” to keep sharp during the long layoff.
Francisco Cervelli caught Burnett in 25 of his 33 starts this season, but the Yankees have given no indication whether he’ll be behind the plate instead of Jorge Posada when Burnett takes the mound against the Rangers. Much has been made of Burnett and Posada not working well together and when paired up the battery has a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts.

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.