Cole Hamels is making “tremendous progress” in recovery from left shoulder tendinitis

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Via beat writer Jim Salisbury at CSNPhilly.com:

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Though still behind schedule and likely to miss one or two starts at the beginning of the regular season, Cole Hamels says he has made “tremendous progress” in bouncing back from an offseason bout of shoulder tendinitis.

“I’m feeling like my body is ready to make a big jump,” the left-hander said Sunday in Phillies camp. “I feel right where I usually am about Feb. 1 going into spring training. That’s about the time I’m usually ready for my first ‘pen. I’m happy where I am.”

Hamels has already been ruled out for Opening Day, but it sounds like he’s on track to join Philadelphia’s starting rotation by the second week of April. The 30-year-old southpaw registered a 3.60 ERA, 1.159 WHIP, and 202/50 K/BB ratio in 220 innings (33 starts) last season. He has a 3.38 career ERA.

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.