Ryan Madson won’t be back before the All-Star break

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When the Phillies placed Ryan Madson on the disabled list they downplayed the severity of his hand injury, but yesterday the team officially ruled out his returning before the All-Star break.

Madson last pitched on June 18, so he’s already eligible to come off the DL, but Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that “he only started to play catch this weekend” and “will need to throw off a mound at least a couple times before he rejoins the bullpen.”

Zolecki speculates that the earliest Madson will return is July 15, which means he will have missed a month with an injury that didn’t even send him to the DL for 10 days as the Phillies initially tried to keep him on the active roster. It also means Brad Lidge may actually beat Madson back from the DL, which could give Charlie Manuel some interesting late-inning decisions if the former closer thrives immediately while the current closer is out of commission.

In the meantime Antonio Bastardo will continue to fill ninth-inning duties after converting each of his first five save chances to go along with a sparkling 0.87 ERA in 31 innings overall. If everyone gets healthy at some point between now and October the Phillies’ bullpen could be extremely dangerous.

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.