Cubs activate Darwin Barney from disabled list

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Darwin Barney is back from the disabled list after missing the first two weeks with a lacerated knee, starting at second base and batting seventh for the Cubs tonight against the Rangers.

Barney suffered the injury during the final spring training game, so the Cubs turned to Alberto Gonzalez and Brent Lillibridge in a time-share at second base. They combined to hit .194 in Barney’s absence.

Lillibridge won’t stick around in a bench role, because as part of several moves today the Cubs designated him for assignment and claimed Cody Ransom off waivers.

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.