Johnny Cueto to make first rehab start Friday

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Johnny Cueto has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment and will start Friday at Double-A, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Cueto has been out since April 13 with a strained lat muscle, but reported no problems following a 45-pitch bullpen session yesterday and is slated to throw 60-70 pitches Friday.

There’s no official timetable yet for his return from the disabled list, but the Reds have indicated that they won’t rush Cueto back and at least 2-3 starts seems likely.

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.