Nolan Arenado could begin a rehab assignment soon

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Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is making some headway towards a return to the club. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that Arenado hit off a tee on Thursday afternoon and will take batting practice on Friday. If all goes well, he could begin a rehab assignment soon, perhaps within a week.

Arenado has been on the disabled list since May 24, when he suffered a left mallet finger fracture on a head-first slide in a game the previous night. Given that the estimated recovery period is between six to eight weeks, Arenado starting a rehab assignment soon could mean he misses only the minimum amount of time.

Arenado was having a great season prior to the injury, slashing .305/.333/.489 with six home runs and 28 RBI in 204 plate appearances. The Rockies could use him back, as they’ve gone 9-21 in the time since.

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.