David Aardsma getting “close” to walking without crutches

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David Aardsma is still walking with crutches six weeks after hip surgery, but the Mariners’ closer said yesterday that he’s “close” to ditching them and is currently able to put about 80 percent of his weight on his legs.

His return timetable has already been pushed back to mid-April at the earliest and even that will require Aardsma to start throwing soon and avoid any setbacks along the way. And he told Greg Johns of MLB.com that doctors have advised him needing “to back off” when there’s some soreness “is probably going to happen.”

In other words, it won’t be surprising if the Mariners are without their closer for most of the opening month, which means any plans to trade Aardsma will likely have to wait until June or so. Brandon League figures to close in the meantime.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.