Carl Crawford expected to be ready for Opening Day

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Carl Crawford was limited to just 31 games in the majors this season prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in August. Pitchers usually need around a year to get back into game action, but position players can return sooner. That’s what the Dodgers are hoping for, anyway.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times this evening that he expects Crawford to be ready for Opening Day if he can avoid setbacks. If he can do it, he would be just over eight months removed from the surgery.

There was some chatter over the weekend that the Dodgers were pursuing Torii Hunter with Crawford and Matt Kemp coming off surgeries, but that would make him a pretty expensive insurance policy, especially with Andre Ethier still on the roster. Hunter is drawing plenty of interest right now and is likely to sign with a club where he has a defined full-time role.

Crawford was acquired from the Red Sox at the end of August along with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto. The 31-year-old outfielder still has five years and $102.5 million remaining on his contract.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.