Clayton Kershaw could pitch Sunday if doctors clear him

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Clayton Kershaw threw a 20-pitch bullpen session this afternoon and manager Don Mattingly indicated that there’s a chance he could return from a hip injury to start for the Dodgers as soon as Sunday.

That would be a huge change from just a few days ago, when the Dodgers feared Kershaw might need season-ending hip surgery that would likely sideline him into 2013.

For now Aaron Harang is scheduled to start Sunday on three days’ rest, which Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes would be his first short-rest start since 2008.

As for who’ll make the call regarding Kershaw’ availability, Mattingly said:

It’s going to have to be the medical people saying he’s passed every test and he’s cleared every hurdle. It’s not going to be my decision. It’s an organizational decision with Clayton. Does it make sense? That’s really more than a manager’s decision. When you have a guy with his kind of arm and his upside, you’re not going to leave that decision only in my hands.

That sounds about right. Don Mattingly is a lot of things, but doctor isn’t one of them and allowing Kershaw to pitch through a hip injury that had everyone in Los Angeles holding their breath all week would be a major decision.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.