Matt Harvey is feeling great, pushing his rehab schedule as hard as he can

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Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal caught up with Matt Harvey and updates us on his rehab. Short version: everything is feeling great. Almost too great:

Harvey says he has progressed from rehabbing his arm to regular upper-body workouts, and he hopes to begin playing catch by the end of February. He believes he is going as fast, and doing as well, as the rehab schedule allows. He says he has felt no pain, that there have been no setbacks, and that his rehab coordinator at the Hospital for Special Surgery has had to slow the recovery timetable for its own sake.

Harvey wants to begin throwing in February and, if he had his way, would pitch in 2014. He knows he doesn’t have his way, however, and that the Mets are not going to risk several years of their future with Harvey at the top of their rotation in the interests of having him pitch some, in all likelihood, meaningless games this September.

Also worth nothing that in recent years a lot of pitchers, especially younger ones, have been quoted as feeling fantastic in the months after their Tommy John surgery, and are almost surprised that they don’t have pain and all of that. But what most of them learn is that pain is not the issue at all. It’s all about touch and feel over pitches. That’s the reason the timetable for Tommy John is what it is, not just the actual physical recovery.

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.