Scott Downs throws simulated game, may return next week

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Out since mid-March with a broken toe, Scott Downs threw a 15-pitch simulated game this afternoon and reported no problems.

Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that Downs also participated in some fielding drills and could be close to beginning a minor-league rehab assignment, with an eye toward joining the Angels’ bullpen at some point next week.

Downs is expected to serve as a setup man after signing a three-year, $15 million deal with the Angels as a free agent this winter, but could emerge as a closing alternative to Fernando Rodney if manager Mike Scioscia isn’t ready to hand ninth-inning duties over to flame-throwing rookie Jordan Walden.

Hyun-Jin Ryu will open season in Dodgers’ rotation

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.

Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.

With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.