J.A. Happ scratched from Sunday start with oblique injury

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According to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle, the Astros have scratched J.A. Happ from his scheduled start against the Phillies tomorrow with an oblique injury.

Happ was pulled from Tuesday’s start against the Astros’ Triple-A team with a strained right oblique. It’s really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, since he’ll only be pushed back to face the Reds on Tuesday, but Happ was originally scheduled to pitch opposite Roy Oswalt, the man he was traded for last July.

Still, as Astros manager Brad Mills explained to Levine, they just didn’t want to take any chances with the 28-year-old southpaw.

“The more we thought about it and talked about it, we wanted to give him a couple more days,” Mills said. “I know that he used to be a Phillie and he’s got a lot of excitement about throwing against his old teammates, but the smart thing was to give him a couple more days to try to heal that thing.”

“If something was to happen tomorrow, I wouldn’t forgive myself.”

Bud Norris will get the nod tomorrow, instead.

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.