AL pitching plan: Weaver, Beckett, Wilson, Pineda, improvise

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AL manager Ron Washington announced his pitching plan for tonight’s All-Star game, or at least his plan for the first four innings.

Jered Weaver, who earned the starting nod by going 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA in the first half, is expected to throw just one inning, at which point Washington will call on Josh Beckett, C.J. Wilson, and Michael Pineda from the bullpen for one inning apiece (in that order).

He’s undecided after that, although Washington has said already that Jose Valverde will take Mariano Rivera’s usual spot and close out the game if the AL has a ninth-inning lead.

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.