Jonathan Lucroy on track to begin minor league rehab assignment Thursday

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Jonathan Lucroy was off to a surprising start before suffering a fracture in his right hand almost two months ago. But he’s inching closer to rejoining the Brewers’ lineup.

According to Brewers’ media relations director Mike Vassallo, Lucroy is tentatively scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Thursday with Class A Wisconsin.

Lucroy began taking batting practice in the cage over the weekend and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that he was blocking balls in the dirt before tonight’s game against the Cardinals. It’s possible he could return by the end of the month if all goes well.

Lucroy was well on his way to a career year prior to the injury, batting .345/.387/.583 with five home runs, 30 RBI and a .969 OPS through 43 games. Martin Maldonado has played well during his absence, so it’s possible the Brewers could shop George Kottaras to contenders leading up to the trade deadline.

Jonny Venters is back in the majors

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The Rays announced on Wednesday that the club purchased the contract of lefty reliever Jonny Venters from Triple-A Durham. The 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 due to a continuous battle with arm injuries. The Rays note that he has undergone two and a half Tommy John surgeries, which is a number that seems to be in dispute.

Venters signed a minor league contract with the Rays in December. With Durham so far this season, he gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Before the injuries, Venters was among the best relievers in 2010-11. In those two seasons, he posted a combined 1.89 ERA with 189 strikeouts and 82 walks in 171 innings.