Brian Roberts nearing rehab assignment

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Brian Roberts finally made it back from the concussions that threatened to ruin his career only to suffer a hamstring injury that required surgery, but the Orioles second baseman is getting close to returning from that as well.

Roberts is five weeks removed from surgery and has started traveling with the Orioles at his request because “it gives you more motivation” and “it keeps you so much more involved.”

Of course, he’ll leave the team once he’s cleared to actually begin a minor-league rehab assignment, but Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports that there’s no timetable for that yet. Roberts has said that once the rehab stint does start he expects it to be a brief one, although given his recent health track record it would be tough to blame for the Orioles if they wanted him to spend more than just a few games in the minors.

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.