Placido Polanco will get ailing back examined Thursday

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Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco was held out of the starting lineup Wednesday for a second straight game with a pinched nerve in his back.

On Thursday, according to John R. Finger of CSNPhilly.com, the veteran infielder will visit a spinal cord specialist in the Philadelphia area to determine the exact severity of the injury.

Polanco has played through back discomfort for much of the 2011 regular season and it’s showing in his .274/.331/.346 batting line. But he was named to the National League All-Star roster on Sunday and is fully expecting to participate in the Midsummer Classic on July 12 in Phoenix.

“The more I’ve played it made it worse and worse,” said the 35-year-old. “I think that turf in Toronto made it worse. That didn’t help. Something that worries me a little is I’m feeling some numbness on my side, too. So we’ll go ahead and make sure it’s nothing bad, bad.”

None of that sounds good, but Polanco has pledged to play through the injury and the Phillies — without a better option at the hot corner — should continue allowing it. He may need regular days off down the stretch.

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.