David Ortiz could be ready for minor league games soon

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David Ortiz will begin the season on the disabled list as he works his way back from pain in both of his heels, but he’s inching closer to returning to game action.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Red Sox manager John Farrell said today that Ortiz will travel with the team to New York to continue his rehab before returning to Fort Myers for the week of April 8. The hope is that he’ll make enough progress by then to be ready to take live batting practice or play in minor league games.

Ortiz’s running program remains a work in progress, as he’s currently limited to straight-ahead running and agility drills. He’ll need to start making cuts and running the bases before being cleared for an official minor league rehab assignment.

Until Ortiz is ready to return, the Red Sox are expected to go with Jonny Gomes as their primary designated hitter and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. as their starting left fielder.

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.