Carl Crawford almost ready to begin facing live pitching

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An update here on the Dodgers’ Carl Crawford.

According to beat writer Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Crawford is throwing at a distance of 90 feet and taking regular swings off a tee at the Dodgers’ spring training complex in Arizona without any pain or discomfort in his surgically-repaired left elbow.

Crawford hopes to begin facing live pitching within the next couple of days and told reporters on Tuesday afternoon in camp that he is “confident” he will be ready for the beginning of the 2013 regular season.

Crawford has batted just .260/.292/.419 with 14 home runs, 23 stolen bases and 75 RBI in 664 plate appearances since signing a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract with the Red Sox before the start of the 2011 campaign. The 31-year-old outfielder was traded to Los Angeles last summer.

Dallas Keuchel to return to Astros’ rotation on Friday

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Astros manager A.J. Hinch told the media, including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, that starter Dallas Keuchel will come off of the disabled list and rejoin the rotation on Friday against the Tigers. Keuchel has missed nearly two months with a neck injury.

Prior to landing on the DL, Keuchel was 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a 69/18 K/BB ratio over 75 2/3 innings. He seemed to be on his way to potentially win another Cy Young Award.

Hinch also noted that Collin McHugh will start on Saturday and Lance McCullers will start on Sunday.

Video: Ketel Marte hits an inside-the-park home run

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Braves starter Aaron Blair had a nightmarish bottom of the third inning on Wednesday afternoon against the Diamondbacks. He had just given up a run on a Daniel Descalso triple hit to center field that center fielder Ender Inciarte read poorly. In the following at-bat, Ketel Marte laced a curve ball to right field. Sean Rodriguez wasn’t able to get to it in time, so the ball bounced off the fence and caromed back towards the stands along the right field line. By the time Rodriguez was able to retrieve the ball, Marte was already on his way home and scored standing up.

The inside-the-park homer will certainly provide a boost to Marte’s stats. He entered Wednesday’s action batting .196/.255/.370 in 51 plate appearances.