Kevin Youkilis to begin rehab assignment this week

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Yankees manager Joe Girardi told Mike Vorkunov of the Newark Star-Ledger that third baseman Kevin Youkilis will play in his second extended spring training game on Monday in Tampa, Florida and could embark on a minor league rehab assignment as early as Wednesday if all goes according to plan.

“I feel good. I feel healthy,” Youkilis told reporters earlier this weekend. “I feel like I’m ready.”

The 34-year-old has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 28 with what was termed a lumbar spine strain. He had a .266/.347/.422 batting line in 72 plate appearances before hitting the shelf.

If he can avoid setbacks, Youk should return to the Yankees’ lineup during the first week of June.

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.