Joakim Soria targeting June return from elbow surgery

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Texas signed Joakim Soria to a two-year, $8 million deal to serve as Joe Nathan’s setup man, but it won’t be for a while.

Soria told Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas that he’s targeting late May or early June for his return from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Soria underwent the surgery last April and many pitchers have returned with 12 months, but the former Royals closer called that timetable “not realistic” and noted that he’s yet to begin throwing off a mound.

Without Soria in the mix for the first 2-3 months the Rangers will lean on newly signed Jason Frasor along with guys like Josh Lindblom, Tanner Scheppers, and Robert Ross.

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.