Cliff Lee is ready, but Chase Utley is still a ways away

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Cliff Lee successfully completed a bullpen session Saturday morning and is expected to make his return to the rotation Wednesday after missing three turns with a strained oblique.

Unfortunately, the news wasn’t quite so good as it pertained to Chase Utley. Manager Charlie Manuel said Friday that Utley would report to Clearwater early next week, but Utley said Saturday he’ll remain with the Phillies for a bit longer. When he does go to Clearwater and the Phillies’ minor league facility, it’ll be because he’s ready to play in games. However, he doesn’t yet have any timetable for when that will happen. Utley has been out since the spring with chronic knee problems.

With Freddy Galvis struggling mightily at the plate — he’s hitting .185/.214/.284 in 81 at-bats — the Phillies have recently started giving Pete Orr more playing time at second base.

Kyle Kendrick figures to move to back to the pen to make room for Lee in the rotation.

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.