Jered Weaver throws off mound for first time since fracturing elbow

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Things are pretty ugly with the Angels right now, but here’s a piece of good news.

According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, Jered Weaver threw off the mound today for the first time since he fractured his left (non-throwing) elbow while trying to get out of the way of a comebacker on April 7.

Weaver threw a total of 28 pitches (all fastballs) at about 90 percent intensity and said that he felt “great.” The 30-year-old right-hander will likely need a few more bullpen sessions before being cleared for a minor league rehab assignment. He’s on track to return in late-May or early-June, which would place him a little bit behind the original timeline of 4-6 weeks.

Angels’ starters entered play tonight ranked 25th in the majors with a 4.81 ERA. Weaver’s return won’t solve everything — and it’s worth noting that he was showing diminished velocity prior to the injury — but it will be a welcome sight.

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.