Jeremy Affeldt making steady recovery from sliced hand

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Giants setup man Jeremy Affeldt was shut down in early September after slicing open his right (non-throwing) hand while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties in his home kitchen.

The cut was deep — coming within a millimeter of a major artery — so the left-hander has been treated with care over the last month-plus. And he’s now beginning to show signs of real progress.

According to the Associated Press, via FOX Sports, Affeldt is expected to have the protective brace removed from his right hand within the next couple of days, after an examination by a specialist in the Bay Area. He’s fully expected to be ready by the start of spring training next February.

Affeldt posted a 2.63 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 61 2/3 innings this season for the Giants, striking out 54 batters while issuing 24 walks. The 32-year-old southpaw carries a $5 million club option for 2012.

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.