Trevor Hoffman keeping his eye on the Diamondbacks

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Just one day after we learned that Trevor Hoffman would return for another season if given a chance to close, the all-time saves leader tells Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he sees a potential fit with the Diamondbacks.

The chances of Hoffman finding another closing gig are slim, but he isn’t completely off base. Not only are the D-Backs without an in-house favorite for the ninth inning next season, but they also recently hired former Padres GM Kevin Towers as their new general manager.

“I’ve known K.T. for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help,” Hoffman said about playing in Phoenix, which would keep him close to home. “But I don’t know. I’m coming off a tough year. I don’t know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate.”

“Usually [money] is what it always comes down to,” Hoffman said. “It’ll be interesting to see if [the D-backs] get back to me. I’m open for anything. I want to take a look at all my options.”

Hoffman, who turned 43 last month, posted a 5.89 ERA and 30/19 K/BB ratio over 47 1/3 innings with the Brewers this past season. Much was made of his early season struggles — something his agent Rick Thurman blames on triceps tendinitis, by the way — but Hoffman actually had a 2.66 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings during the second half of the season, reaching the 600-save plateau in September.

Thurman said he has has yet to speak directly with Towers, but talked to the Diamondbacks last Friday about Hoffman and a number of his other clients, including Brian Fuentes and Octavio Dotel, both of whom also closed games last season.

Hoffman could probably find a job if he is willing to work on the cheap, but don’t forget that Rafael Soriano, Scott Downs, J.J. Putz, Kevin Gregg, Kerry Wood, Joaquin Benoit and Koji Uehara, among others (including that Mariano guy), are all free agents, as well. With only so many closer gigs to go around, the reality is that we may have seen the last of “Hells Bells.”

Clayton Kershaw could return on September 1

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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has been out since July 24 with a lower back strain. He’s slated to throw a three-inning simulated game in Pittsburgh on Monday, per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Plunkett adds that if all goes well, the earliest Kershaw could return is August 31 against the Diamondbacks, but September 1 is more likely against the Padres.

Kershaw, 29, hit the disabled list on a pace to win his fourth Cy Young Award. He’s 15-2 with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.

The Dodgers have managed just fine without Kershaw. The club is 19-4 since July 24. At 87-35, the Dodgers own baseball’s best record, well ahead of the second-best Astros at 76-48.

Ian Kinsler was fined for ripping umpires publicly. Brad Ausmus says it’s the largest fine he’s seen in 25 years.

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Last week, Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler was ejected from a game against the Rangers after giving home plate umpire Angel Hernandez a look after a pitch was thrown outside for a ball. Kinsler was apparently unhappy with calls Hernandez had made earlier. Manager Brad Ausmus, too, was ejected.

After the game, Kinsler said that Hernandez “needs to find another job.” He added, “…he needs to stop ruining baseball games.”

Kinsler was fined by Major League Baseball for his remarks, Mlive’s Evan Woodbery reports. According to Ausmus, the fine levied on Kinsler was the largest one he’s seen in nearly 25 years in baseball. Kinsler said, “I said what I felt and what I thought. If they take offense to that, then that’s their problem.” Ausmus said, “To single out one player as a union is completely uncalled for.”

As Ashley noted on Saturday, the umpires wore white wristbands to protest “escalating attacks on umpires.” The umpires agreed to drop their protest on Sunday after commissioner Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the umpire union’s governing board, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports.