Brian Matusz threw a 35-pitch bullpen session yesterday and afterward the injured Orioles starter called it “a big step forward” in his recovery from a strained intercostal muscle.
Jeff Seidel of MLB.com reports that Matusz threw fastballs and off-speed pitches while reporting no problems and will now head to extended spring training in Florida.
Barring a setback next week he could be cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment and potentially rejoin the Orioles’ rotation at some point in mid-May.
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.