Stephen Drew acknowledges he may miss start of season

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Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew had his 2011 season cut short in late July after suffering a fractured right ankle while sliding into home plate.

And he’s still battling the injury here in March.

According to MLB.com beat man Steve Gilbert, Drew is “nowhere near the point in his recovery” where he is ready to appear in Cactus League games and could land on the 15-day disabled list when the 2012 regular season opens in early April.

“The doctor said it was going to be a year process, and now I’m at month seven,” Drew acknowledged Thursday in D’Backs camp. “Flexibility is back to normal. Now I just have to get the strength back. … The coaching staff has been really good. The training staff is really good. We’re taking it one day at a time and we’ll see where it goes from there.”

The 28-year-old had a .713 OPS, five homers and 45 RBI in 86 games last year before the ankle fracture. John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist would fill in at short in the early going if Drew is indeed unavailable.

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.