Jose Altuve expected to return to action Sunday

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Astros second baseman Jose Altuve hasn’t appeared in a game in six days because of a mild right hamstring strain. But he was available for use as a pinch-hitter on Saturday afternoon against the Cubs and is nearly ready to return for good.

According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, Astros manager Brad Mills told reporters after Saturday’s 3-2 loss that he plans to write Altuve’s name into the lineup for Sunday’s series finale at Wrigley Field.

Altuve, 22, is hitting .309/.351/.453 with five homers, four triples and 12 steals in 71 games this season.

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.