Albert Pujols still hopes to return before the end of the season

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Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has been out since July 27 with a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. He was expected to miss the rest of the 2013 season, but after removing his walking boot for the first time in three weeks, he feels hopeful about returning before the season is up, according to Bill Shaikin.

The foot injury, which had been bothering Pujols long before he was put on the disabled list, was clearly limiting his ability to play the game. He was having his worst offensive season to date, posting a .767 OPS in 443 plate appearances. Those are decent numbers for most first basemen, but for Pujols — author of a career 1.008 OPS — they are subpar. He is in the second year of a ten-year, $240 million contract with the Angels.

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.