Alex Avila got platelet-rich plasma injections in left knee

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Alex Avila, who like many catchers has struggled with knee problems, got platelet-rich plasma injections in his left knee shortly after the season ended.

Platelet-rich plasma injections involve drawing blood from the arm, separating the platelets, and then re-injecting them to aid the healing process.

Avila was sidelined during the World Series with a wrist injury, but struggled with knee tendinitis throughout the season. Tony Paul of the Detroit News reports that manager Jim Leyland plans to keep a close eye on Avila’s playing time in 2013, but the Tigers “have determined surgery isn’t necessary, at least at this time” and Avila says he “feels great” right now.

New backup Brayan Pena isn’t as good a fit to platoon with the left-handed-hitting Avila as the right-handed-hitting Gerald Laird was, so Leyland may have to get creative.

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.