Clayton Kershaw on track to begin a rehab assignment Friday

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2013 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw threw 51 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday at Dodger Stadium as he continues to make his way back from a strain of the teres major muscle in his upper back. And he’s nearly ready to make his return to game action.

According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Kershaw is scheduled to throw another bullpen session tomorrow. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that while nothing is set in stone, the southpaw is currently on track to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday.

Pitchers are permitted to stay on a rehab minor league rehab stint for a maximum of 30 days, but Kershaw might only need a couple of tuneup starts before rejoining the Dodgers.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.