Albert Pujols aiming to participate in World Baseball Classic but first wants to test his right knee

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MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez has the story:

As long as his surgically repaired knee continues to feel good, Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is expected to play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, his agent, Dan Lozano, said.

Pujols underwent a cleanup procedure on his right knee in October to alleviate some mild discomfort that he developed near the conclusion of the 2012 regular season. Lozano told Gonzalez on Saturday that his client “feels great so far” but will probably test his knee out at spring camp before officially committing to his native country’s roster for the 2013 WBC.

Pujols, who will turn 33 years old this Wednesday, batted .285/.343/.516 with 30 home runs, 50 doubles and 105 RBI across 670 plate appearances last season for Anaheim. The Angels still owe him $238 million.

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.