Former top prospect Dennis Tankersley attempts comeback with Padres

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Four years after his last minor league appearance and eight years since he last saw the majors, right-hander Dennis Tankersley is attempting a comeback. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres, his former team.

Tankersley was just a 38th-round pick of the Red Sox in 1998, but given his early success, it appalled many when he was traded to San Diego for Ed Sprague two years later. He quickly emerged as a top arm in the San Diego system, going 10-4 with a 1.98 ERA and a 173/44 K/BB ratio in three stops in 2001. Baseball America rated him the franchise’s No. 2 prospect entering 2002, sandwiching him between Sean Burroughs and Jake Peavy.

Unfortunately, Tankersley never could establish himself in the majors. He went 1-4 with an 8.06 ERA in nine starts and eight relief appearances in 2002. In 2003, he had one disastrous appearance with the Padres, giving up seven runs without retiring a batter. He was a bit more successful in 2004, but he still had an 0-5 record to go along with his 5.14 ERA in six starts and three relief appearances. Overall, he was 1-10 with a 7.61 ERA and a 68/61 K/BB ratio in 86 1/3 innings.

After 2004, Tankersley spent four more seasons in Triple-A rotations, never bettering a 4.00 ERA in any of them. He was last seen going 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2008.

Tankersley is still just 33, and if his arm is sound, there’s little harm in giving him a shot. He’ll probably top out in Triple-A again, but with pitchers, one never knows for sure. Just ask the Giants about Ryan Vogelsong.

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.