Phillies activate Joe Blanton from DL for bullpen role

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Joe Blanton is back slightly earlier than expected, as the Phillies activated him from the disabled list following just one minor-league rehab outing.

Blanton has been out since mid-May with an elbow injury and won’t rejoin the rotation, instead filling a low-leverage bullpen role for now.

Blanton has made just five relief appearances in eight seasons, but had a 5.50 ERA in six starts before the DL stint and the Phillies obviously aren’t short on rotation depth. There’s a chance he could work his way into a middle relief spot for the playoffs.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.