Carlos Quentin to begin minor league rehab assignment Tuesday

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Carlos Quentin is inching closer to his Padres’ debut following March knee surgery.

According to Dan Hayes of the North County Times, Quentin is set to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with Triple-A Tucson.

Quentin has slowly increased baseball activities after being cleared for live batting practice earlier this month. Padres manager Bud Black told Hayes that the 29-year-old outfielder will need more than seven games in the minors to get ready, so we likely won’t see him with the big club until late next week.

Quentin, a San Diego native, was acquired from the White Sox in late December after batting .254/.340/.499 with 24 homers, 77 RBI and an .838 OPS over 483 plate appearances last year. He can become a free agent this offseason, but while the Padres expressed some initial interest in a contract extension, his name figures to eventually pop up in trade talks.

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.