Corey Hart hopes to return from knee surgery by the end of April

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When Corey Hart underwent right knee surgery last week, it was estimated that he would be sidelined for four months. However, he is determined to make it back sooner.

According to ESPN.com, Hart said today that he has already begun rehabilitating his knee and feels that there’s a “realistic” chance he could be ready to play by the end of April. This would put him a month ahead of schedule.

“If it takes a little longer then mid to end of May, but I feel good about end of April,” Hart said in a text message. “So basically like 2011, when I came back and hit 26 homers in five months.”

Either way, the Brewers will have to begin the season without him. Mat Gamel, who missed all of last season following surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, is expected to get a chance to fill in. The Brewers were in talks with Lyle Overbay before he signed with the Red Sox this week and remain on the lookout for additional depth.

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.