Roy Oswalt pulled Thursday with back tightness, won’t make next scheduled start

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David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News passes along notice that righty Roy Oswalt had to be pulled from Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals after feeling tightness in his lower back.

Oswalt surrendered four earned runs in two ugly innings before exiting. He issued no walks, but he allowed five hits and struck out just one.

And the lack of success isn’t something new.

Oswalt had been roughed up for 21 hits and 11 earned runs in his last 19 1/3 innings heading into Thursday’s outing. He spent close to three weeks on the disabled list earlier this season, and there are valid concerns that he’s been trying to pitch while hurt.

The Phillies are likely to reevaluate Oswalt on Friday afternoon before making any kind of roster decisions. It’s certainly possible that the veteran starter will be headed back to the 15-day disabled list.

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UPDATE, 11:49 PM: Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly says Oswalt admitted to feeling pain in his lower back when “walking, pitching and sleeping.” He has already been scratched from his next scheduled start and could be headed back to the disabled list. There’s an MRI scheduled for Monday.

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.