Freddie Freeman on track to return Monday

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Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is scheduled to begin a brief minor-league rehab assignment Friday at Triple-A and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he’ll likely come off the disabled list Monday barring a setback.

Freeman got off to a great start, but has been out since April 6 with a strained oblique muscle. Chris Johnson has been the primary fill-in for Freeman at first base, with Juan Francisco taking over for Johnson at third base, and Atlanta has gotten very good production from both of them.

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.