Josh Hamilton returns after intestinal virus

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Josh Hamilton was able to come off the bench and serve as a defensive replacement in Monday’s win over the Padres. Now he’s back in center field for Tuesday’s game after missing four starts due to an intestinal virus.

Hamilton was hospitalized Friday because of the illness and then released Saturday after receiving IV fluids. He said he lost 10-15 pounds.

Hamilton, one of the early favorites for AL MVP honors this year, is hitting .330/.390/.674 with 22 homers and 62 RBI in 61 games. However, just one of those homers has come in the month of June.

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.