After taking beating behind plate, Alex Avila makes early exit from Game 5 of ALCS

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UPDATE: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Avila exited the game with a left patellar tendon strain and is considered day-to-day.

9:46 p.m. ET: Alex Avila was forced to make an early exit from Game 5 of the ALCS, two innings after a home plate collision with David Ross.

Avila twisted his left knee in the collision with Ross, then took a foul tip off the facemask in the top of the fourth inning. Combine that with the beating he took yesterday, both behind the plate and hitting, Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided to make a change.

Not having Avila available hurt the Tigers in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Brayan Pena came up as a pinch-hitter with runners and first and second and grounded into an inning-ending double play against Jon Lester. The Red Sox still lead it 4-0 going into the top of the fifth inning.

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.