Clayton Kershaw placed on “submaximal throwing program,” now likely to miss all of April

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Either the Dodgers are playing it extra-carefully with their $215 million ace — which would be completely understandable — or Clayton Kershaw’s back injury is more serious than anyone involved is willing to say. These updates come Tuesday from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times

That makes it a near-impossibility that Kershaw will be able to return this month to the active roster, and it’s probably even safe to rule him out through the early part of May. Perhaps the Dodgers shouldn’t have allowed the 26-year-old left-hander to throw 102 pitches in his regular-season debut halfway around the world.

This is good news for the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, who may have just become the favorite for the NL Cy Young Award. Adam Wainwright also now has better odds after last year’s second-place finish.

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.